Report: United 1 Southampton 1
Manchester United were held to a successive 1-1 Premier League draw as Southampton came from behind at Old Trafford.
The Reds had taken a first-half lead, as we had done at Burnley in midweek, with a goal after 21 minutes by Jadon Sancho.
But, once again, a lead at the break was rubbed out and two points were lost in the race for a top-four place as Saints equalised two minutes after the interval through Che Adams.
It was an exciting spectacle but United couldn't find a winner, Harry Maguire coming closest, and the match ended 1-1.
FIRST HALF - SANCHO DRAWS FIRST BLOOD
There were some frantic and entertaining opening exchanges with both goals under pressure. United got the ball rolling in the sixth minute when the lively Sancho slipped a neat ball through to Ronaldo. Our No. 7 rounded goalkeeper Fraser Forster but couldn’t get enough pace on his side-foot shot with the goal at his mercy and Romain Perraud was able to scurry back and block the attempt with Mohammed Salisu mopping up the danger in the box.
Saints replied in the ninth minute when a David De Gea clearance put the Reds on the back foot. Che Adams vainly attempted a difficult header inside the six-yard area as the cross was behind him but a follow-up shot was blocked by Harry Maguire.
The Reds turned defence swiftly to attack from that moment of danger and Sancho raced upfield. We had Saints outnumbered three-to-one in the breakaway. Sancho chose to go it alone and his shot was saved by Forster's leg.
After 21 minutes, Sancho finally got the goal his early prominence deserved. United were again dangerous on the break and Bruno Fernandes sent Rashford away with a pass in his own half. Rashford looked up and picked out Sancho’s run on the left and delivered the perfect assist which the No. 25 converted at the far post.
Southampton came close after 34 minutes with a well worked one-two on the edge of United’s area and Stuart Armstrong fired a low shot just wide.
The visitors had gained a bit of a foothold on the match and were creating some heart-stopping moments for the Reds. None more so than in the 39th minute when a Pogba attempt at clearing a throw-in fell for Armstong. His acrobatic half-volley forced a good save from De Gea to keep United in front.
Our Spanish keeper then had to dive to his left as a shot from Perraud was squeezed through a ruck of players and almost crept in at the far post.
In first half added-on time, Ronaldo set up Pogba for a goal but as the French midfielder scored, the assistant-referee flagged for offside against Cristiano and it was ruled out.
SECOND HALF - ANOTHER SETBACK
United’s struggles recently to hold onto a lead against Middlesbrough in the Emirates FA Cup and at Burnley in midweek surfaced again as we were caught flat-footed soon after the interval. Southampton took advantage of the slack start and Adams finished coolly with a shot in off the far post to level the match up.
The Reds were nervous and the Old Trafford crowd edgy as the Saints took advantage with Armando Broja forcing De Gea into a save in the 54th minute. Maguire came close to putting us back into the lead, three minutes later. Luke Shaw’s searching free-kick caused panic in Southampton’s defence and, as the ball dropped out, the captain’s stabbed chance was hacked off his own goalline by keeper Forster.
United’s anxiety disappeared as we staged a rally with a Ronaldo half-volley and a Diogo Dalot fierce effort needing solid saves again from Forster.
Saints were still very much up for this one and hit back with a chance after 65 minutes for Armstrong who fortunately fired his opportunity into the East Stand. It might not have been going all United’s way but it was value-for-money entertainment and the next chance fell again to the visitors with Broja wasting a good opportunity with a poor finish, or possibly even poorer cross, in the 67th minute as he forced his way into the Reds' penalty area.
Ronaldo had the ball in the net from a Fernandes cross after 72 minutes but was ruled offside. A VAR check confirmed the decision. Rangnick then made a change after 75 minutes by bringing on Anthony Elanga for Scott McTominay and then, seven minutes later, subbing Rashford for Jesse Lingard.
It was a tense finale with United unable to turn late dominant possession stats into chances and Broja, for Saints, continuing to cause us problems.
In stoppage time, Maguire again was close with a header from Shaw's free-kick but once more Forster was an immovable object, diving to fpaw it away with a fabulous save.
United: De Gea, Dalot, Varane, Maguire, Shaw, McTominay (Elanga 75), Pogba, Fernandes, Sancho, Ronaldo, Rashford (Lingard 82).
Subs not used: Henderson, Lindelof, Jones, Mata, Telles, Wan-Bissaka, Hannibal.
Goal: Sancho 21.
Bookings: Rashford, McTominay, Pogba, Lingard.
Southampton: Forster, Walker-Peters, Bednarek (Stephens 46), Salisu, Perraud, S Armstrong, Romeu (Diallo 90 + 4), Ward-Prowse, Elyounoussi (Livramento 71), Adams, Broja.
Subs not used: Caballero, Long, Armstrong, Djenepo, Smallbone, Valery.
Goal: Adams 48.