The first major event of the match occurred early on, as Oriol Romeu picked up an injury in the first 10 minutes. In the 11th, he was substituted for Jordy Clasie. The fact Southampton can bring on a technical player like Clasie from the bench is enough to show that they have more talent than the average Premier League side.
The first chance of the match came soon after, in the 13th minute, when Juan Mata put Zlatan Ibrahimovic through in the box. Ibrahimovic held the ball up and set up Paul Pogba deep for the Frenchman to have an effort on Fraser Forster, who did well to catch the ball and could’ve very easily given a corner away.
Jordy Clasie put Nathan Redmond through with a brilliant pass in the 18th minute, but his cross was well over hit and Dusan Tadic couldn’t get onto it. Southampton’s goal from the start was to play through the channels and this was a prime example of exactly that. Southampton looked better than United in the opening minutes.
In the 26th minute, Eric Bailly’s conceded free kick ended up being a good one for Southampton. A series of bounces, including a wonderful touch from Virgil Van Dijk, allowed Shane Long to take a shot from range, but it flew into the side-netting.
A wonderful ball over the top from Pogba allowed Mata to reverse a header towards Ibrahimovic. The Swede tried to corner a bicycle kick, but it was a little too much to ask from even Ibrahimovic. Soon after, a wonderful volleyed pass over found Ibrahimovic on the right, but his lashed shot ended up flying across the face of the goal.
A poor back pass from Juan Mata allowed Dusan Tadic to fizz a ball into Shane Long, who fluffed his lines on the chance. Mourinho did not look pleased with Mata at all, but, to be fair, ceding possession is abnormal for Mata.
A brilliant cross from Rooney on the right-wing in the 36th minute, the first genuinely good piece of play from the captain this season, created United’s first goal. The ball was too high for Pogba, but not Ibrahimovic, who took his goal with a thumping header. It was a majestic first goal for Ibrahimovic at Old Trafford.
Pogba picked up the ball in the 43rd minute and showed his first glimpse of world class quality- he played well throughout the first half, but this time he picked up the ball and beat 4-5 men before controlling the ball outside the box and spreading out wide for Anthony Martial. Though Martial’s cross was poor, United fans would’ve undoubtedly enjoyed that.
A wonderful period of possession from Southampton in the 49th minute allowed Shane Long to give Tadic a headed chance at goal. Tadic buried it, but he both was offside and fouled Bailly in the process. On the counter, Martial hit a shot from the wing, but Forster did very well to parry it. Southampton’s joy in attack fully ended in the 51st minute, though, when Luke Shaw won a penalty from a Jordy Clasie clip. Ibrahimovic made no mistake, burying his penalty with ridiculous composure.
Southampton continued attacking, though, and almost got their reward in the 58th minute when Cedric’s cross found Nathan Redmond. Redmond, looking sharp all match, couldn’t find a way past Valencia and Mata, who did incredibly well to get all the way back and defend the chance. In the 61st minute, a poor pass from Ibrahimovic put Southampton through four-vs-two. Virgil Van Dijk found himself in a good area, but Bailly did incredibly to show him down the line, so he passed back for Clasie who struck well wide.
A wonderful ball from Rooney put Martial through, and his run in was excellent. Ibrahimovic was on the other side, but he was out of reach, forcing Martial to have a shot from a tough angle. It was saved well by Forster, but only just. Soon after, Martial was again through on the wing, but Cedric made an incredible last-ditch interception.
In the 75th minute, a brilliant cross from Cedric allowed Shane Long to get a bit of a cheeky header across goal. He couldn’t quite find the corner due to great defending from Blind, and it went out as Juan Mata was replaced by Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Shortly after, a run from Pogba down the entire left touchline ended with a curling effort that was narrowly wide.
A poor pass from Tadic in the 79th minute fell to Martial, who slid a clever ball through to Ibrahimovic. The ball, however, was a bit unexpected and, thus, resulted in nothing. It was his last contribution of the game before exiting for Ander Herrera. Overall, Martial looked great, but he would’ve done even better to get on the scoresheet. Rooney moved out to the left-wing when Martial exited before making way for Chris Smalling in the 89th minute.
Mkhitaryan schemed and dazzled up the pitch on the counter in the final minute before finding Pogba for one final shot that was wide. That represented the end of the match, one of some excellent performances but most notably Ibrahimovic. Southampton played well, but United’s attacking talents proved too much on the day for them.
Goals: Zlatan Ibrahimovic 36′, 52′ penalty
Assists: Wayne Rooney 36′
Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Shaw; Fellaini, Pogba; Mata (Mkhitaryan 76′), Rooney (Smalling 89′), Martial (Herrera 82′); Ibrahimovic
Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Young, Schneiderlin; Rashford