Saints claim a point at Old Trafford

By SFC Media time Sat 30 Dec Man United v Saints
Photo by Matt Watson | Oriol Romeu
Sat 30 Dec 5.30PM
Premier League
Manchester United
Lingard (60') Matic (72')
yellow card
Højbjerg (26') Hoedt (44') Boufal (58') Ward-Prowse (80')
Referee: Craig Pawson | Venue: Old Trafford | Attendance: 75,051

Southampton frustrated the Premier League's second placed side from the off, but needed a heroic defensive display in the final ten minutes to assure a point.

United went close on multiple occasions, with vital inceptions from Maya Yoshida and Wesley Hoedt preserving the clean sheet and earning a deserved share of the points.

The deadlock is the home side's third consecutive draw, as bitter rivals Man City continue to extend their lead at the summit, while Saints can glean some pride from a valiant away effort, and their first shutout since October.

Mauricio Pellegrino made four changes to the side that faced Spurs on Boxing Day, with a first Premier League start of the season handed to young full-back Sam McQueen.

Alex McCarthy replaced Fraser Forster in goal, while James Ward-Prowse and Dušan Tadić were restored as part of an attacking three, completed by the returning Sofiane Boufal.

The home side carved the first clear-cut opening, and it was a trio of usual suspects on the scene, as the first assault on Saints' goal flashed uncomfortably over the crossbar.

Stand-in skipper, Paul Pogba swept a cross-field pass to Juan Mata, who trapped the ball with instantaneous precision, and drove a square lofted pass towards target man Romelu Lukaku.

The striker climbed well, before meeting the delivery with his head, but couldn't guide it under the bar, as McCarthy scrambled to dissuade the lively Belgian.

Ward-Prowse had a sight of goal moments later, fizzing a strike low on target, which would have crept inside the far post had David De Gea not been typically alive to the impending danger.

An early collision between Hoedt and Lukaku meant a premature ending for the latter, who was stretchered off in the 15th minute, after some lengthy treatment. Marcus Rashford was introduced in his place.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 30: Southampton’s Alex McCarthy during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Southampton at Old Trafford on December 30, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
United go close early on, before Romelu Lukaku is stretchered off with a head injury

Ward-Prowse, cleverly spotting a De Gea miscalculation, curled a wicked free-kick towards the near post in the 18th minute, which required significant intervention. The United 'keeper was ultimately equal to it, cumbersomely punching to safety, before the home side were on the attack themselves.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan initiated a quick-fire break, with Mata and Rashford for company. The wayward pass eluded both, as Saints escaped a momentary overload down the right.

But the hosts were flooding forward with little invitation, and Mata again went close in the 26th minute. The Spaniard latched on to a fortuitous rebound, before lashing at the shot with power, calling on McCarthy to produce a goal-saving stop with a strong left boot.

Ashley Young was providing width down the right, and gaining plenty of ground, while needing to keep a mindful eye on Boufal, who was proportionately finding useful space as the half began to get stretched.

The Moroccan international embarked on a couple of promising solo runs, mesmerising opposition defenders with his quick feet, without managing to unlock that final incisive pass.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 30: Southampton’s Sofiane Boufal during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Southampton at Old Trafford on December 30, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Sofiane Boufal causing problems with his trickery and close control

United finished the half with more intent, as chances fell for Jesse Lingard and Luke Shaw. Fresh from a brace last time out, Lingard's two efforts were the most noteworthy, as he glanced a deft header marginally wide of the upright in the 43rd minute and sent a side-footed shot unbearably close seconds prior.

Goalless at the break, Saints reemerged with vigour. Shane Long tasked De Gea with producing the save of the match in the 48th minute, and the 27-year-old replied with characteristic self-assurance.

The Irishman's low drive almost wrong footed De Gea, who untangled his feet just in time to obstruct the shot.

Mkhitaryan's effort stung the gloves of McCarthy in the 56th minute, but the breakthrough remained elusive, despite both teams avidly searching for an opener.

Tadić met Ward-Prowse's cross 20 minutes from time, with a flicked header that failed to trouble De Gea, but chances were becoming more plentiful, with both teams committing increased manpower forward.

A cute interchange on the edge of the area between Long and Tadić gifted the Serb another chance in the immediate aftermath, with Boufal involved in the prelude. The shot crept wide of the post, with De Gea's nonchalant stance an indicator of the effort's inaccuracy.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 30: Southampton’s Shane Long(L) and Victor Lindelof of Manchester United during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Southampton at Old Trafford on December 30, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Shane Long racing with Victor Lindelof, before Dušan Tadić's effort goes wide

Resolute at the back, Saints weathered an onslaught as the clock ticked over 90 minutes. Both centre-halves were called in to action, to safeguard parity, but the visitors remained organised and were good value for a hard-fought point.

Back at St Mary's in three days, Saints will host Crystal Palace in the hope of building on tonight's much improved team performance.

Manchester United

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Manchester United

David de Gea (GK)
Ashley Young
Victor Lindelöf
Phil Jones
Luke Shaw
Juan Mata
Henrikh Mkhitaryan
replace Anthony Martial (65′)
Nemanja Matic yellow card
Paul Pogba (C)
Jesse Lingard yellow card
Romelu Lukaku
replace Marcus Rashford (14′)
Anthony Martial
Marcus Rashford
Axel Tuanzebe
Sergio Romero
Daley Blind
Marcos Rojo
Ander Herrera


Alex McCarthy (GK)
Sam McQueen
Wesley Hoedt yellow card
Maya Yoshida (C)
Jack Stephens
Dusan Tadic
replace Mario Lemina (82′)
Oriol Romeu
James Ward-Prowse yellow card
Sofiane Boufal yellow card
replace Nathan Redmond (85′)
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg yellow card
Shane Long
replace Manolo Gabbiadini (80′)
Mario Lemina
Steven Davis
Jan Bednarek
Fraser Forster
Jérémy Pied
Manolo Gabbiadini
Nathan Redmond
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