Talking points: United v Southampton
The race for a top-four spot continues to be as tight as ever after Manchester United suffered a late sucker-punch against in-form Southampton at Old Trafford on Monday night.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men responded brilliantly to going a goal behind early on, from Stuart Armstrong, with two quickfire goals from Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, who each notched their 21st strikes of the season. But it was heartbreak for the Reds in the dying seconds, when Michael Obafemi grabbed an injury-time equaliser. Here, we round-up the key talking points from the draw...
THREE TO GO
Three league games stand between United and a Champions League place now. Next up, it’s Crystal Palace away on Thursday evening, West Ham at home next Wednesday and Leicester City away on the final day of the campaign on Sunday week. Chelsea, meanwhile, face Norwich City on Tuesday evening at Stamford Bridge before travelling to Liverpool next Wednesday and hosting Wolves on the final day. Leicester play the same night as us this week, at home to Sheffield United, before travelling to Tottenham on Sunday, then, of course, they play us. We mustn’t forget those teams just outside the top five in Wolves and Sheffield United and Spurs, who could yet have a say in the outcome of this fascinating race.
Martial has been rightly praised in recent weeks, not just for his excellent goalscoring form, but his all-round impressive hold-up and link-up play as United’s man leading the line. And, once again, all those qualities were on show at Old Trafford on Monday night. It was Martial’s superb strength in the box to keep possession, hold off a defender and flick the ball out for Rashford to fire the Reds level on 20 minutes. Opta confirmed that the Frenchman’s assist was the sixth time the pair have combined for a goal in the Premier League this season and no duo have combined for more goals for United in a single season in the competition. Three minutes later, we witnessed more of Martial at his brilliant best as he superbly blasted the Reds in front with another superb run, cut-inside and top-corner finish for his 50th Premier League in a United shirt. It was his 10th goal in his last nine home games and his 21st of the season, the same total as Rashford. And you feel both are more than capable of adding to those totals between now and the finale.
RASHFORD ON TARGET
Marcus briefly went ahead of Martial in this season’s United goal charts – for a whole three minutes – after netting his first goal from open play since our victory away at Norwich City in January. Of course, he missed a fair chunk of the campaign with a back injury and he was back on the scoresheet in our last home game – the 5-2 win over Bournemouth – from the penalty spot. He’ll be delighted to have found the net again this evening, and from open play. After having a strike ruled out for offside earlier, he finished with aplomb when found brilliantly by his strike partner in the 20th minute for his 21st of the season. Bruno Fernandes took time to praise Rashford’s excellent work for the team last week, but goals are what our no.10 thrives on.
LANDMARK FOR DAVID
Our keeper overtook Peter Schmeichel in becoming the overseas player to have played the most games for us in our last game at Villa Park and, tonight, David De Gea played his 400th match for the Reds. He’s 27th on the all-time appearance list and only Alex Stepney has played more times in goal for the club. He will of course be extremely disappointed with the result, particularly after making a superb late stop to deny Nathan Redmond, but, in time, he'll no doubt be proud of reaching a memorable milestone.
TRIBUTE TO JACK
Both sets of players, officials and those inside Old Trafford – including the watching Sir Alex Ferguson - took time to pay tribute to the late Jack Charlton, brother of Sir Bobby, who sadly passed away, aged 85 last Friday. The two teams gathered around the centre-circle before kick-off for a moment’s silence for the 1966 World-Cup winner and donned black armbands.
Focus on United v Southampton Gallery
You need to see these standout images from an entertaining and important match at Old Trafford.
DOWN TO 10 MEN
With Luke Shaw and Brandon Williams both going off injured, United were a man down for the vital closing stages when, of course, we conceded the equaliser. Shaw appeared to hurt his ankle before Williams suffered a gash to his head in an aerial clash with Kyle Walker-Peters. Although we only made four substitutions, you are only allowed to make changes during three intervals (excluding half-time). Thankfully, Mason Greenwood escaped injury after being the victim of a late challenge by Oriol Romeu in the first half.
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