Manchester United vs Southampton Match Analysis

United players left shellshocked after conceding late equaliser: 
Image taken from The Evening Standard.

Match summary

Manchester United missed the opportunity to move in to Champions League places tonight despite stretching their unbeaten run to 18 games thanks to a dramatic last minute equaliser by Michael Obafemi for Southampton. A tap in for Obafemi from a late corner earned the Saints a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford, after goals from Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial had put United 2-1 up, having been 1-0 down when Stuart Armstrong scored the opening goal of the game for the away side. The result saw United miss the chance to go third after a round of fixtures that saw defeats for both their top four rivals, Chelsea and Leicester City and remain fifth albeit on goal difference. 

First Half

United started the game sluggishly and seemed to have no answer for Southampton’s high pressing game and solid defensive shape. However it was United who had the best chance to open the scoring in the 10th minute, when Martial pounced on a poor touch from James Ward-Prowse to find himself 1v1 against Alex McCarthy, but the Frenchman was unable to convert thanks to a strong left hand from the Saints keeper to keep the score at 0-0.

Two minutes later United were made to rue that golden opportunity when Southampton took a deserved lead. Paul Pogba, reflecting his team’s poor start was caught napping on the ball and was dispossessed by Danny Ings, the ball was fed to Nathan Redmond who crossed to the back post to Stuart Armstrong, who brought the ball down well and fired his shot past David De Gea. United almost fired straight back when Luke Shaw got forward for the first time and played a nice low cross to Rashford who tucked the ball home nice, only to be given offside.

From that point on United looked to be coming to terms with Southampton’s tactics and on 20 minutes they were level. A move that saw Pogba play a speculative cross in to the box that was brilliantly controlled Martial, he then wrestled free of his marker and flicked the ball to Rashford who finished expertly across the keeper in to the bottom corner. Three minutes late United turned the game completely around with one of their trademark, devastating counter attacking goals. Bruno Fernandes moving the ball to Martial who face up The Saints defence cut inside and unleashed a powerful drive high in to the goal leaving the keeper no chance this time.

The lead gave United control of the game and confidence was coming back in to their play. A clever flick from Fernandes fell to Pogba who hit a low driving shot that stung the gloves of McCarthy. The remaining 15 minutes of the first half ebbed and flowed but without too much incident and The Reds went in to the halftime break 2-1 to the good.

Second Half

United came out with an attacking purpose but were unable to find a third goal that would of have killed the game off. Marcus Rashford having the best chance to get third goal when he and Martial combined beautifully, but the English striker failing to finish from close range after his shot was somehow blocked.

Moving in to the last 15 minutes of the game and United’s luck started to take a turn for the worse. First of all Luke Shaw rolled his ankle whilst getting forward and was not able to continue and was subsequently replaced by Brandon Williams. Southampton at this point with nothing to lose were starting to put United under sustained pressure and they would have been level through Redmond had it not been for a fine stop from De Gea, when it looked like the ball was destined for the top corner. United were forced to finish the game with ten men when Brandon Williams suffered a nasty clash of heads with Kyle Walker-Peters which forced him to leave the pitch with a nasty cut above the eye.with a nasty cut above the eye.

With three minutes of stoppage time remaining Southampton forced a corner down United’s right. Ward-Prowse aimed an in-swinging corner to the near post, despite having four players in that area United were unable to deal with it and Saints centre back Jan Bednarek flicked the ball on to the back post where it was nudged home by Obafemi to leave United shell-shocked as to how they had let the win slip away.

United will need to dust themselves down quickly with the games continuing to come thick and fast, there will be no time for them to feel sorry for themselves. United looked a little lethargic at times tonight and you have to question some of quality in depth of the squad in some areas when called upon. However the destiny of the top four is still within their own hands, with what should be a favourable set of fixtures and what could be a top four shoot out on the final day of the season at Leicester City.

Author: TUD Author