Premier League Match Report (13/07/20): Man United 2-2 Southampton
The Premier League's ninety-two remaining games, spread across nine rounds of games are set to play out beginning June 17th 2020, with Project Restart's health and safety conditions meaning the remaining games of the season will be played out behind closed doors. We will be providing match reports from these behind closed doors competitive encounters as the league campaign nears its end-game. All aboard.
Match Report (GW35): Man United 2-2 Southampton
Gameweek 35 was rounded off with free-scoring Man United hosting a Southampton side that defended like king in a recent 1-0 home win over the out-going champions, Man City on BBC.
The game's first big moment saw James Ward-Prowse channel his inner Steven Gerrard when we slipped on the ball, allowing Anthony Martial the chance to run through. Charging down on goal the Frenchman was denied by the giant hand of Alex McCarthy who narrowed the angle well just as Martial tried to loft the ball over the shot-stopper. Going right up the other end, Ward-Prowse nearly opened the scoring himself from a counter-attack as he was fed the ball at the edge of the post, with David de Gea making a decent save from a low-stinging effort.
To round off a hectic couple of minutes of mistakes and drama in the game, the 12th minute saw catastrophe from the back for United when David de Gea played the ball out from the back to Paul Pogba with the Frenchmen turning at the edge of the box and getting robbed due to a high-press from Danny Ings. The 19-goal attacker stole the ball, played in Redmond down the left-flank, who in turn coolly played the ball to Stuart Armstrong alone at the six-yard box to hammer home past David de Gea for the opening goal of the evening.
Just 4 minutes later it looked as if OGS's side were back on level terms when Anthony Martial and Luke Shaw combined with Shaw playing a good through ball through to Marcus Rashford, whose incisive finish was ruled out as the Englishman was a few yards offside when making his run.
Rashford didn't have to wait long to rectify the offside when he did find the back of the net in the 20th minute when United linked up well down the right-flank with Wan-Bissaka, Fernandes and Pogba, the with Frenchman eventually crossing to Martial who controlled well, bullying the Saints defence before squaring to Rashford on the left to tuck in at Alex McCarthy's far-left.
The quick turnaround of fortunes happened within 2 minutes when United broke quickly from midfield, with Pogba playing in Fernandes, who in turn played in Martial off the left-wing. Martial drove with the ball easily past Kyle Walker-Peters before cutting in to his strong right-foot inside the penalty area and smashing past McCarthy to give United the lead, with the drinks break shortly after giving Southampton time to shake off having conceded twice in just over 2 minutes.
The remainder of the first-half and the start of the second were slow to get moving, with the only real chance falling to Rashford in the 66th minute when he was found by Martial on the left-hand by-line, with Rashford's wild swing not finding the net as he was being closed down by the Saints defence.
85 minutes on the clock and Southampton caused a real moment of opportunity as they thought they'd drawn level when Nathan Redmond cut in from the left and struck a fine effort, drawing a top quality save from David de Gea to keep United's lead intact.
With the game looking like it had died a slow death to end the game, there was a final twist in the tale as Southampton stole an equaliser at the death when Jan Bednarek flicked on a corner, with Michael Obafemi beating Victor Lindelof to the ball and stabbing home on the line, stunning us into life to close the game.
Man of the Match: Anthony Martial (MUN)
Despite not winning the game, Anthony Martial did everything in his power to see United across the line. The Frenchman's hold up play and set up for Rashford's equalising goal was fantastic, whilst his solo-effort to put his side into the lead was the best individual moment of the game.
MUN 2-2 SOU - Insight and Analysis:
First-half, good. Second-half for 44 minutes, bad. A true game of two halves, showing both sides of Man United's season. Free flowing in attack with good strikes from Martial and Rashford, whilst defensive and ultimately underwhelming in the second-half. If I were Ole Gunnar Solskjær, I'd be absolutely fuming about conceding at the death, the points dropped puts United in a tricky position with the FA Cup upcoming on Sunday.
What games takes importance? The Thursday trip to Crystal Palace, or Sunday's FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea? Frank Lampard's side play on Tuesday evening at home to Norwich, giving them a couple of extra days to prepare for the cup showdown, so it might be a week to maybe change things up at Palace to keep the squad fresh, though in doing so it may cost them a Champions League spot if OGS gets his selections wrong. These question marks might have been eased had Obafemi not been in the right place at the right time.
For Southampton, I'm not too sure this result is much of a surprise. Substitutions worked in the Saints favour and this performance is on the back of playing brilliantly against Man City and for spells could have had more goals tonight at Old Trafford - and have now gone 4 games away from home without defeat. With the right recruitment and coaching, and a fit Danny Ings, we could be looking at a year of progression on the south coast.
As a neutral viewer though, this game was like eating all three flavours of Neapolitan ice cream. In places you get brain freeze, though there are moments to savour and enjoy.
Venue: Old Trafford
Manager: Ole Gunnar Solskjær
GK: David De Gea
LB: Luke Shaw (Williams 75')
CB: Harry Maguire
CB: Victor Lindelöf
RB: Aaron Wan-Bissaka
CDM: Nemanja Matic
CDM: Paul Pogba (Fred 63')
CAM: Bruno Fernandes (McTominay 84')
LM: Marcus Rashford
RM: Mason Greenwood (James 84')
ST: Anthony Martial
Sergio Romero, Eric Bailly, Fred, Andreas Pereira, Scott McTominay, Juan Mata, Daniel James, Odion Ighalo, Brandon Williams
Manager: Ralph Hasenhuttl
GK: Alex McCarthy
RB: Kyle Walker-Peters
CB: Jack Stephens
LB: Ryan Bertrand
RM: Stuart Armstrong (Smallbone 69')
CM: James Ward-Prowse
CM: Oriol Romeu (Obafemi 87')
LM: Nathan Redmond
ST: Che Adams (Long 64')
ST: Danny Ings
Angus Gunn, Shane Long, Michael Obafemi, Pierre-Emil Højbjerg, James Vokins, Kevin Danso, Alexandre Jankewitz, Will Ferry, Will Smallbone
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