Report: Manchester United come back to draw 2-2 with Southampton but many United players need to think about their futures

Manchester United drew 2-2 with Southampton at St Mary’s in the Premier League. United were 2-0 down by the time the 20th minute with Stuart Armstrong scoring in the 13th minute and Cedric Spares scoring a sublime free-kick seven minutes later. United got a goal back through Romelu Lukaku in the 33rd minute with Ander Herrera equalising in the 39th minute. It was another poor showing for United.

United started the game with a back three, which could also be seen as a back five with Ashley Young and Luke Shaw playing in the wing-back positions. Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic flanked either side of Phil Jones in the centre of defence. Not ideal but it suggested Jose Mourinho was still able to put options forward with so many players on the sidelines through injury; Eric Bailly and Chris Smalling both have minor injuries and Marcos Rojo returned to full training late this week.

United had a great opportunity to break the deadlock inside the third minute after Alex McCarthy seemingly kicked fresh air, instead of the ball, allowing Marcus Rashford to back-heel the ball into the box but Ander Herrera was unable to get to the end of it. The ball fell for Romelu Lukaku on the penalty spot but McCarthy put in an excellent block to redeem himself after his earlier mistake, keeping the Belgian from scoring United’s opening goal.

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In the sixth minute of the match, Young carried the ball to the edge of the Southampton box, he decided to go for goal but Jannik Vestergaard was there to make an important block for the struggling Premier League side. Paul Pogba slipped in the centre of midfield in the eighth minute but was able to control the ball and immediately charge forward for his side but the opportunity came to nothing for United. Southampton, however, seemed up for this match.

In the 13th minute of the match, Southampton opened the scoring through Stuart Armstrong after United’s defence having many chances to get in a last-ditch tackle to thwart the danger of the home side, which was hard to write about considering Mark Hughes’ side were so low in the Premier League table before this match kicked off. Nathan Redmond passed the ball to Michael Obafemi, who then passed to Armstrong, who drilled his low effort across David De Gea’s goal and into the far corner.

United looked to respond almost immediately after conceding their first goal in two matches but Luke Shaw’s cross was deflected in the Southampton area which made it easier for McCarthy to claim the ball and avert the danger. Rashford was the first player to be booked in the 18th minute of the game after a sliding challenge on Mario Lemina. Southampton won a free-kick in a dangerous area which turned into their second goal, this time scored by Cedric Soares.

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The Portuguese international curled the ball over the United wall and into the top corner, beating De Gea, sparking more celebrations from the home supporters, as they should be doing. They were 2-0 against Manchester United, a side slipping further into the darkness. There might have been claims for a United penalty in the 23rd minute after Shaw was challenged by Yan Valery just inside the Southampton box but it was a superb tackle, which saw the home fans celebrate once again.

In the 25th minute of the match, United had an opportunity to create something as Young played in a dangerous cross from the right. McTominay attacked but was unable to keep his header down as the ball sailed over the Southampton crossbar. United seemed unable to play this game, which should signal something. To let a team like Southampton own them is a pathetic position to be in. However, United were 2-0 down against Newcastle United not that long ago, in similar conditions, so it is not over yet.

United had another opportunity in the 28th minute with the ball falling kindly for Rashford on the edge of the Southampton area but the England strikers effort sailed over the crossbar, which is just another painful miss by the 20-year-old. Three minutes later, Rashford had another opportunity as he slipped away from Maya Yoshida before attempting to pull the ball back for Lukaku. Vestergaard spotted the danger and made the clearance, denying United from getting themselves back into the game.

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United got themselves back into the game in the 33rd minute with Romelu Lukaku ending his goal drought, which lasted around 982 minutes. Jose Mourinho looked very glum ahead of the goal. Rashford latched onto a pass from Pogba before passing to Lukaku. The Belgian then thumped the ball towards goal, which raced past McCarthy and into the top corner of the net. The 2-0 lead did not look so good for Southampton as the ball hit the back of the net.

In the 36th minute of the match, Southampton won another free-kick in a dangerous position. However, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was unable to find anything from it, at a time whereby his Southampton side needed to claim everything they got as the game was back on. United were level in the 39th minute of the match after Ander Herrera found the back of the net. Rashford had come alive in the last few minutes, producing a brilliant run and Herrera was in the right place at the right time to pounce. 2-2. Game on.

The Southampton supporters were not as lively as they were inside the opening 20 minutes of the match. Just 20 minutes later, the United supporters could be heard again. It was now Mark Hughes’ glum face that was seen on the television screen, perhaps thinking about his job, which could well be on the line, again. There were two minutes of added time at the end of the half with no clear chances from either side. The half ended with it all to play for. The second half should be a good one.

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United took the kick off to start the second half. Mourinho’s side immediately started where they finished the first half. Shaw won a corner in the 47th minute, which was taken by Rashford, then punched away by McCarthy, putting the ball out for another corner. Rashford took the set-piece again this time with the ball sailing over the crossbar and a foul being given against McTominay on McCarthy. United needed to make this half work, earn the three points and sit back and see what Sunday brings.

United had another free-kick which was taken by Young, played into Marouane Fellaini, who headed towards goal. However, the Belgian was unable to keep the ball down and it did not challenge McCarthy much as it went out of play. Southampton then won a free-kick, in their own half, in the 53rd minute after Pogba made the foul. The Frenchman was booked for the challenge, United’s third player on a yellow card in this game.

A minute later, Lemina was booked for a foul on Pogba, his fifth booking of the season so far, meaning that he will miss Southampton’s next match. The foul was cynical and straight down the Achilles of United’s French midfielder. A few minutes later, Pogba committed a foul again, giving a free-kick to Southampton with Redmond going straight for goal with De Gea getting equal to the ball and denying the home side anything from the set-piece.

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In the 59th minute of the match, McTominay was fouled by Vestergaard with the Danish defender being the third Southampton player to be booked in the game. The free-kick gave something for the home side to think about with Yoshida putting the ball out for a United corner. The corner came to nothing, although United did push Southampton. Luke Shaw’s effort from outside of the box curled away from the target before it went out of play.

Southampton had a good few minutes just after the hour mark, which resulted in a few chances to go in the lead again. Obafemi seems to have injured his hamstring during one opportunity with the player then going down in the box and claiming a penalty, which was not given by Kevin Friend. On seeing the replay, you could see why. The player then made way for Manolo Gabbiadini in the 64th minute of the match.

With just over 20 minutes of the game remaining, United had a rare chance with Pogba and an overhead kick, which failed to trouble McCarthy. With a point in the bag, which is not enough, this United side needed to take risks in order to get ahead in the game for the first time. In the 70th minute, Rashford had the ball on the left, passing it to the right, for Lukaku, who then passed into the box for Rashford, who was unable to meet the height of the ball.

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Mourinho was readying Diogo Dalot to come on for his Premier League debut. It was Shaw who would make way for the Portuguese fullback. Dalot slotted in at right-back with Young moving over to the left-back position. Southampton had an opportunity to create something following the change, but it came to nothing for them. United still have plenty of work to do in order to get something from this game, other than a point.

Anthony Martial was next to come on for United, with Rashford making way for the Frenchman. The substitution happened in the 77th minute. Southampton were on the edge of United’s final third, pushing the visitors in order to make way for a third goal, which could see them climb out of the relegation zone. United then gathered possession and played the ball up field, only for Southampton to regain possession and probe United’s final third area once again.

Pogba made a massive mistake in midfield, trying to play the ball, instead giving it away, when then turned into a perfect long-range shot for Southampton, with De Gea only just getting a touch on the ball to keep the ball out of the back of the net. A corner was given for the home side, which came to nothing other than a shot on goal which was wide of the target. It was a let-off for United and Pogba, who just does not seem to be worth much of the fee United paid for him two and a half years ago.

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United were in the Southampton final third, Pogba on the ball, then gave it away which turned into a counter-attack for the home side. United’s defence managed to make a couple of blocks which stopped Southampton from taking advantage on the incompetence of Pogba, who does not look like he wants to be on the pitch, let alone at this club. The referee then stopped the match after Lukaku was seemingly injured, clutching his knee. The Belgian was back on the pitch seconds later.

United were allowing Southampton to apply pressure in the final third but that ended when United won a goal kick. Mourinho then made his final change in the 86th minute with Jesse Lingard replacing Lukaku. Pogba seemed to want too many touches of the ball during this game, which resulted in him not being able to do much in the game unless he is just incapable of stringing some performances together.

Martial was fouled on the edge of the Southampton box after finding no way through the defence with the ball. Four minutes of additional time was added to the half. Young took the free-kick, which was a comfortable save for McCarthy with Southampton seemingly happy to take a point from this game. It is probably the best United could get from the game, which was not good enough if the manager did believe he could have his side in the top four come the end of the year, which is 29 days away.

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Southampton made a second substitution with Lemina being replaced by Steven Davis two minutes into added time. Southampton made a claim to control the game which resulted in Ashley Young being booked, his fifth yellow card of the season so far, meaning he will miss United’s next match, on Wednesday against Arsenal at Old Trafford. Armstrong was booked in the dying seconds of the game with United winning a free-kick. However, they could not make it could as Southampton made the clearance. Game over.

Goals: Stuart Armstrong 13′, Cedric Soares 20′; Romelu Lukaku 33′, Ander Herrera 39′

Assists: Michael Obafemi 13′; Marcus Rashford 33′, 39′

Manchester United: De Gea; Young, Jones, McTominay, Shaw (Dalot 73′); Herrera, Matic, Fellaini; Pogba; Lukaku (Lingard 86′), Rashford (Martial 77′)

Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Rojo, Mata, Fred

Bookings: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg35′, Mario Lemina 55′, Yannik Vestergaard 59′, Stuart Armstrong 90+5′; Marcus Rashford 18′, Marouane Fellaini 35′, Paul Pogba 54′, Ashley Young 90+3′

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