Manchester United failed to return to winning ways against Southampton with a 1-1 draw at St Mary’s on Saturday afternoon. Welshman Daniel James opened the scoring for United just ten minutes into the match with a sublime effort on goal. Jannik Vestergaard equalised in the second half before Kevin Danso was sent off.
Southampton started well, on the front foot from the start of the match, pushing United back into their own half. United then got a break with Daniel James using his pace on the left, playing in a cross, which was deflected into Marcus Rashford which was blocked by Jannik Vestergaard, whose reading of the game was great.
United saw a lot of pressure from the Saints with a few awkward moments for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side. In the sixth minute, Kevin Danso broke on the left but Aaron Wan-Bissaka covered well by David De Gea had to rush off his line to make a block to deny Southampton from getting anything in that attack.
Two minutes later, De Gea was tested after Sofiane Boufal and Che Adams played a one-two 25-yards from goal. Boufal then flashed
United then took the lead in the tenth minute of the match, Scott McTominay rolled the ball out fo James on the left with the Wales forward moving the ball towards the penalty area before launching his shot on goal which rocketed into the top right-hand corner putting United 1-0 up. What a start to the season for the 21-year-old.
In the 15th minute, after a bright start from the Saints, United had started to edge ahead in terms of taking control of the game. Just two minutes later, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg’s pass went astray after Boufal made a good run in between United’s defenders. The home fans then groaned as it could have been an opportunity to level the score.
McTominay created something in the 19th minute of the match, lofting the ball into the box, picking out Wan-Bissaka, whose volley was fired over the crossbar. The flag was up for offside though, so it would not have counted. Danso was booked for hauling back Andreas Pereira in the 20th minute as the midfielder got past the left-back.
Two minutes later, James had another shot on goal, giving the Saints no warning. He unleashed his shot from the edge of the box which forced Angus Gunn to put the powerful strike to safety. United on fire at the minute, treating Southampton how they treated them at the start of the match. United seemed determined to win this match.
United continued to push halfway through the first half of the match, seemingly searching for that second goal, which did not look too far away. In the 28th minute, Rashford broke down the right, whose dangerous cutback was booked behind for a corner by James Ward-Prowse. From the corner, Rashford has an opportunity to double the lead, heading wide. It would have been offside though.
De Gea showed his impeccable goalkeeping in the 30th minute after he claimed Ward-Prowse’s curling cross at the near post. Four minutes later, the Saints started to play a better brand of football, keeping possession giving them something to start with to get back into the game. An equaliser did not seem to be forthcoming though.
Danny Ings has a shot on goal in the 35th minute, aiming to catch De Gea out with a shot from distance but the forward dragged his effort well wide of the target. In the 37th minute, Boufal cut inside the box by McTominay was there to make a vital block of the goal bound effort. Ings then tried to take on Victor Lindelof, the Swede mopped up easily.
Five minutes from the end of the half, Harry Maguire was booked for a tackle on Adams. Despite the booking, Maguire put in a good display of defending against Adams near the byline, forcing the forward to mess up his cross, which ended up behind for a goal kick. The England defender is a calm and composed player at the back, just what United needed.
Two minutes were played at the end of the first half with it ending with United still in the lead. There were no changes at the start of the second half for either team. United won an early free-kick on the right by Ashley Young;’s delivery was poor and Gunn caught the effort in the six-yard box. United would need to do much better to double their lead.
Vestergaard dispossessed Rashford on the halfway line with a good tackle, something which seemed to be delightful for the home fans in the stadium. United that had a chance in the box through Rashford, with the goalkeeper denying him and Rashford sending the ball out of play. However, United won a corner, which came to nothing.
Southampton defended well against United in the early stages of the second half. United had another opportunity with Pereira rushing into the area, however, he did not get connection to the ball with a miskick eventually getting the cross in but the Saints cleared the danger. At the other end of the pitch, Adams had a chance which was not taken well.
Southampton equalised in the 58th minute of the match through Vestergaard with a header, beating De Gea seconds after the goalkeeper made a save to deny the South Coast club from scoring. United need to get themselves back in the game quickly. Southampton made their first change with Shane Long replacing Che Adams.
In the 63rd minute of the match, Boufal got free on the left before standing the ball up to the far post which forced Young to make a desperate clearance behind for a corner. United cleared the danger from the corner. Jesse Lingard was warming up for United in the 65th minute with Solskjaer needing to make a change to get back on top.
Southampton seemed to be inspired by their equaliser, really raising their game in this half. Nemanja Matic and Lingard replaced Pereira and Mata in the 68th minute of the match. Southampton made their second change with Stuart Armstrong replacing Boufal in the 71st minute of the match. United still needed to get stuck into the game.
Danso was sent off in the 73rd minute of the game for a foul on McTominay, his second booking of the game. Southampton were down to ten men. United needed to capitalise from that. As Solskjaer has stated that Mason Greenwood was such a natural finisher, the fact he was not the first player off the bench leaves me with some questions.
United had a chance to get back in front in the 75th minute with James’s stinging strike which was unfortunately saved by Gunn. The Saints made their final change with Maya Yoshida replacing Danny Ings in the 77th minute of the match. Just under 15 minutes were left for United to get something from this game. A victory is vital here.
Wan-Bissaka got some involvement in the game in the 79th minute, flashing an inviting ball across the box by Rashford was on his heels in the middle, unable to reach the ball. Solskjaer made his final change of the match with Greenwood replacing McTominay in the 82nd minute of the match. Could he help get United back in front?
United had an opportunity to go in front in the 83rd minute after a level through pass from Paul Pogba, which sent Rashford through on goal. It was a tight angle and the final shot was kept out of the net by Gunn’s legs. Jesse Lingard was blocked with a chance in the 85th minute from 25-yards. United were throwing everything at this match now.
There was a penalty claim in the 86th minute which was not given after Greenwood went down in the box. United would need to find another way to get the better of this Southampton side. Lingard had another chance on goal, shooting wide of the target in the 87th minute. United were putting a lot of energy into attacking, needing better finishing.
Young had the chance to put United ahead but his curled effort flashed wide of the target. United needed to do much better with their finishing against the Saints. Four minutes were added at the end of the half, giving United some time to find the winner, which they have done late in the game time and time again in the past. Could they do it now?
It was wave after wave of attack from United. Southampton
It was 1-1 at the end of the game and Solskjaer has two weeks to get back to the drawing board and find a way for United to win their matches. Despite having many chances, the finishing was poor and the team lacks creativity. To give youth a chance would be one way, bringing in Angel Gomes and the likes of Greenwood and Tahith Chong, also James Garner.
United will face Leicester City at Old Trafford on Saturday 14 September 2019, a traditional 15:00 BST kickoff. By then, after the international break, with the Carabao Cup and the UEFA Europa League also starting for United, the manager will need to have them firing or face another turbulent season with nothing to look forward to other than the end of the season.
Goals: Jannik Vestergaard 58′; Daniel James 10′
Assists: Kevin Danso 58′; Scott McTominay 10′
Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Young; McTominay (Greenwood 82′), Pogba; Pereira (Lingard 68′), Mata (Matic 68′), James; Rashford
Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Rojo, Tuanzebe; Chong
Bookings: Kevin Danso 20′, 73 s/o, Stuart Armstrong 90+6; Harry Maguire 40′, Ashley Young 90+4′