Obafemi strikes last-gasp leveller

By SFC Media time Mon 13 Jul Man United v Saints
Photo by Matt Waston | Michael Obafemi
Mon 13 Jul 8PM
Premier League
Manchester United
2
Southampton
2
Rashford [20'] Martial [23']
goal
Armstrong [12'] Obafemi [90+6']
Wan-Bissaka (86')
yellow card
Ward-Prowse (44') Stephens (53') Walker-Peters (56')
Referee: Chris Kavanagh | Venue: Old Trafford | Attendance: 0

Michael Obafemi arrived off the bench to rescue a deserved point for Southampton six minutes into added time in a dramatic finish at Old Trafford.

Stuart Armstrong fired Saints in front after 12 minutes, but in-form Manchester United looked on course for a fifth straight Premier League win when Anthony Martial set up Marcus Rashford to equalise, before scoring himself midway through the first half.

United have swept all before them in recent matches, but Saints proved more than a match for the Champions League hopefuls, who were hanging on in the closing stages.

It seemed a sublime one-handed save from David De Gea to deny Nathan Redmond would be enough to keep the visitors at bay, but Obafemi, who had only just come on, was in the right place at the right time to force the ball home from a last-gasp corner.

Team news was straightforward enough, with neither manager seeing fit to make alterations.

Saints were unchanged from the side that beat Manchester City and drew at Everton, while United named the same team for a fifth consecutive Premier League game for the first time since 1993, having won each of the previous four by three clear goals.

Ralph Hasenhüttl was convinced his players could trouble the in-form hosts and would have been encouraged by the opening 10 minutes in which Saints settled quicker.

But the visitors had their goalkeeper to thank for keeping them on level terms after an uncharacteristic mistake from James Ward-Prowse.

The skipper was caught in possession as the last man, leaving Martial with a clear run on goal, but out came McCarthy to spread himself and make a fine one-handed save to spare his captain’s blushes. 

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JULY 13: Stuart Armstrong goal during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Southampton FC at Old Trafford on July 13, 2020 in Manchester, United Kingdom. Football Stadiums around Europe remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in all fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Stuart Armstrong kept his head to steer Saints in front

At the other end, Paul Pogba was not afforded the same let-off when Danny Ings hassled him into losing the ball on the edge of the box, before Armstrong popped up at the far post to dispatch Redmond’s chipped cross with aplomb.

Back came United, as former Saint Luke Shaw charged forward from left-back, exchanged passes with Martial and picked out Rashford with a fine cross put away by the striker, but the offside flag was rightly raised to halt the red wave in its tracks.

Meanwhile, Pogba had not learned his lesson as he was caught dallying again, this time by Ché Adams, who was joined by Ings on the counter as Saints smelt blood, but the pass from one striker to the other was heavy and Ings’s 20th Premier League goal of the season would have to wait.

This was a cracking spectacle, but it was the home side who were about to take things up a notch, as Rashford and Martial showcased some deadly finishing to turn the tide in United’s favour with two goals in four minutes just before the drinks break.

First Martial took the role of creator, controlling Pogba’s cross from the right and holding off Jack Stephens to feed Rashford, who made no mistake with a first-time shot back across McCarthy.

Before Saints had time to draw breath, Bruno Fernandes spread the play to Martial wide on the left this time, having assisted the equaliser from the centre-forward position, and the Frenchman showed his scoring instincts to dart inside Kyle Walker-Peters and drive an unstoppable shot high into the net inside McCarthy’s near post.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JULY 13: Stuart Armstrong (L) and Harry Maguire (R) during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Southampton FC at Old Trafford on July 13, 2020 in Manchester, United Kingdom. Football Stadiums around Europe remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in all fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Armstrong appeared to be barged in the back by Harry Maguire in the box

This is what United have done lately – blitzed teams in short bursts – and Hasenhüttl knew his players needed to regroup as he ushered them closer for some words of advice at the end of the first quarter.

United wanted a third goal. Pogba, awoken from his slumber, sent McCarthy sprawling to his right to repel an awkward 20-yarder, before Martial proved his left foot is less reliable than his right by shooting wildly off target.

Next it was Rashford’s turn to drift out to the left channel, looking to thread a square pass into the path of the onrushing Martial, only for Fernandes to take it off the toe of his teammate, as Saints survived another rapid break.

But Hasenhüttl’s men settled into their task again and seemed to have rediscovered a foothold by half time, still well in the game despite the 2-1 deficit.

Confidence restored, Saints began the second half the way they’d started the first, with the two No 10s, as the boss would say, combining to good effect.

This time it was Redmond receiving the ball from Armstrong, attacking the box and pulling the trigger from the edge of the D, only to pull his shot wide of De Gea’s right-hand post.

Then Armstrong went to ground inside the area claiming a barge in the back from Harry Maguire and tempers flared, leading to a falling out between Stephens and Fernandes, as the latter took exception to an off-the-ball swipe that yielded a booking. 

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JULY 13: Michael Obafemi(20) of Southampton scores late on and wheels away to celebrate with his team mates during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Southampton FC at Old Trafford on July 13, 2020 in Manchester, United Kingdom. Football Stadiums around Europe remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in all fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Saints celebrate Michael Obafemi's timely equaliser

After Walker-Peters fizzed a low cross along the six-yard line that went unconverted, Hasenhüttl opted to freshen up his forward line by introducing Shane Long for Adams.

Saints’ energetic right-back was soon having to defend again as the game continued at a breathless pace, as Rashford showed his elusiveness to escape, trade passes with Martial and burst into the box, but Ryan Bertrand shut him down just in the nick of time with a goal-saving tackle.

The arrival of Will Smallbone in place of deadlock-breaker Armstrong helped piece together some more penetrative Saints attacks, as the game entered the last 20 minutes still hanging in the balance.

Martial’s solo counter-attack might have conjured a goal of the season contender with a better finish, but by the closing stages most of the action was taking place in the United half of the field.

When Redmond danced his way into the area and sent De Gea flying to his left to repel his driven shot, it seemed Saints’ hopes were over, but after a clash of heads between Walker-Peters and United substitute Brandon Williams, five added minutes were signalled.

The five were up by the time Ward-Prowse delivered a telling corner to the near post that was flicked on by Jan Bednarek and turned in by Obafemi from just a couple of yards out as Saints celebrated a point that will feel like three.

Manchester United

Head to Head Stats

Southampton
  • Possession (%)
    48
    comparison angle
    52
  • Shots
    8
    comparison angle
    9
  • Shots on target
    4
    comparison angle
    5
  • Corners
    4
    comparison angle
    6
  • Passes Complete
    368
    comparison angle
    412

Manchester United

1
David de Gea (GK)
2
Victor Lindelöf
23
Luke Shaw
replace Brandon Williams (75′)
29
Aaron Wan-Bissaka yellow card
5
Harry Maguire (C)
31
Nemanja Matic
26
Mason Greenwood
replace Daniel James (84′)
10
Marcus Rashford goal
6
Paul Pogba
replace Fred (63′)
18
Bruno Fernandes
replace Scott McTominay (84′)
9
Anthony Martial goal
3
Eric Bailly
39
Scott McTominay
21
Daniel James
22
Sergio Romero
8
Juan Mata
25
Odion Ighalo
15
Andreas Pereira
17
Fred
53
Brandon Williams

Southampton

1
Alex McCarthy (GK)
35
Jan Bednarek
21
Ryan Bertrand
5
Jack Stephens yellow card
24
Kyle Walker-Peters yellow card
22
Nathan Redmond
16
James Ward-Prowse (C) yellow card
17
Stuart Armstrong goal
replace William Smallbone (69′)
14
Oriol Romeu
replace Michael Obafemi (87′) goal
9
Danny Ings
10
Che Adams
replace Shane Long (64′)
7
Shane Long
23
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg
29
Jake Vokins
28
Angus Gunn
47
Will Ferry
20
Michael Obafemi
4
Jannik Vestergaard
38
Kevin Danso
27
William Smallbone
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