Saints dent United’s top four chase
Manchester United missed the chance to go third in the Premier League table as Southampton secured a late 2-2 draw at Old Trafford.
With his side on a 17-match unbeaten run, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saw no reason to switch things around by naming an unchanged XI for the five consecutive matches – the first time this has happened in 27 years at United.
Ralph Hasenhuttl also decided against rotating his side, having seen his side pick up four points against Man City and Newcastle. And for good reason too. The Saints were fast out of the blocks, pressing with purpose and trying to unsettle the United backline and looked every bit a side improving with every game.
But the hosts should have taken the lead when Anthony Martial seized upon James Ward-Prowse’s poor touch, only to see his effort blocked by Alex McCarthy.
That miss proved costly just two minutes later when Southampton opened the scoring. Paul Pogba was caught in possession by Danny Ings and Nathan Redmond crossed to Armstrong, who hammered past David De Gea to give the visitors a shock lead.
The Man United of old might have folded, but Solskjaer’s men have been in fine form of late and were quick to respond when Marcus Rashford put the ball in the net, only to see the offside flag go up.
But four minutes later, Rashford would get his goal after some terrific hold-up play from Martial. The Frenchman poked the ball into the 22-year-old’s path and he produced a sublime low finish into the corner.
United soon found the spring in their step and made it 2-1 in the space of two minutes. Martial got one-on-one with Kyle Walker-Peters and dived inside the Tottenham loanee before unleashing a rocket into the top corner.
Oriol Romeu was fortunate not to be given his marching orders for a nasty challenge on Mason Greenwood, which was reviewed by VAR but not deemed worthy of a straight red card.
After the break, Southampton showed their evident improvement as they began to get a better grasp on the game and Redmond went close, dragging his shot wide from 20 yards out.
United looked far from comfortable on the ball and Pogba was withdrawn on the hour mark after a subdued display in midfield, as Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side continued to press for an equaliser.
Luke Shaw was forced off with a suspected ankle problem to give Solskjaer some cause for concern and De Gea was forced into a fine save late on to deny Redmond on his 400th appearance.