Report: Southampton 2 United 3
Edinson Cavani came off the bench to inspire Manchester United to an incredible 3-2 comeback against Southampton at St Mary's on Sunday afternoon.
The Uruguay international came on at the break, with the hosts 2-0 ahead, thanks to Jan Bednarek and James Ward-Prowse, and set up Bruno Fernandes, for yet another goal.
The Portuguese midfielder then turned provider as his cross-cum-shot was headed home brilliantly by Cavani and the striker stooped again in stoppage time to earn a glorious victory.
Stunner on the south coast gallery
Check some of the best images from a thriller against Southampton.
FIRST HALF – SAINTS ON TOP
Ole made two changes to the side that swept past Istanbul Basaksehir in midweek as Mason Greenwood replaced Anthony Martial, who fell ill the night before the match, and Nemanja Matic came in for Cavani, who was named on the bench. Donny van de Beek, meanwhile, made his first league start for the Reds. And the Netherlands international was involved in United’s first opening on seven minutes.
Nice link-up play between the lively van de Beek and Alex Telles led to the latter slipping a pass forward towards Greenwood, who sped past defender and goalkeeper, but could only find the side-netting as the goal lay gaping.
The Reds had settled well and went close again on 16 minutes when Fernandes’s deflected shot clipped the outside of the post.
Despite United’s early dominance it was the hosts who took the lead, seven minutes later, very much against the run of play. After Ward-Prowse’s dangerous free-kick had been cleared for a corner, the Saints’ skipper sent an in-swinging set-piece over and Bednarek rose to flick in at the near-post. It almost got worse minutes later when Kyle Walker-Peters took aim and saw his low shot take a nick off Telles and the outside of the post.
Saints almost handed United a direct route back when Alex McCarthy presented the ball to Greenwood who sped towards goal. McCarthy saved his shot and somehow got up quickly to make a brilliant double-save, first from Fernandes and then again as the Portuguese looked to follow up on his initial effort.
On 33 minutes, the home side doubled their advantage, from another set-piece. After Fred felled Moussa Djenepo on the edge of the box, Ward-Prowse stepped up and curled home from 20 yards.
SECOND HALF – SUPER-SUB CAVANI
The Reds were forced into a change between the sticks at the break with Dean Henderson replacing De Gea, who appeared to pick up a knock as he attempted to save Ward-Prowse’s goal. At the other end of the pitch, Cavani came on for Greenwood.
Henderson’s first taste of the action came three minutes in, when he claimed a well-struck shot from Walcott.
Rashford had a glorious chance, on 52 minutes, to give United a lifeline but his shot was straight at McCarthy and replays also showed he may have been offside. Cavani was next to have a go as the ball dropped to him in the box, but a shot on the turn was deflected over.
Cavani made no mistake with a brilliant assist on the hour-mark, however, when we got ourselves back into it. Excellent battling play from Fred and Aaron Wan-Bissaka led to the latter finding our no.7 on the right. He picked out Fernandes in the box, who took a touch before rolling the ball past McCarthy.
Cavani almost headed a leveller himself, nine minutes later, when he rose brilliantly to meet Wan-Bissaka’s cross but the ball dropped just wide of the far post. He wasn’t to be denied, though, as the Reds made it 2-2. A Telles corner was cleared out to Fernandes who blasted the ball back into the area and, as it rose from a deflection, Cavani flung himself at the ball with a superb diving header past McCarthy.
At the other end, Che Adams had a go on the turn in the box but his low shot dropped wide, thankfully. It was the first really dangerous moment of the second period, with United continuing to dominate proceedings in search of a winner.
It came in stoppage time when Rashford sent a cross into the area and Cavani was there again to head past McCarthy and secure a memorable victory on the south coast.
Southampton: McCarthy; Walker-Peters (N'Lundulu 93), Vestergaard, Bednarek, Bertrand; Armstrong (Diallo 90), Romeu, Ward-Prowse (c), Djenepo (Long 72); Walcott, Adams.
Subs not used: Forster, Stephens, Tella, Obafemi.
Goals: Bednarek 23, Ward-Prowse 33.
United: De Gea (Henderson 46); Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire (c), Telles (Williams 84); Matic, Fred, van de Beek, Fernandes; Rashford, Greenwood (Cavani 46).
Subs not used: Fosu-Mensah, Tuanzebe, James, Mata.
Goals: Fernandes 59, Cavani 74, 92