United edge out Saints

By SFC Media time Sat 23 Sep Saints v Man United
Photo by Matt Watson
Sat 23 Sep 3PM
Premier League
Manchester United
Lukaku [20']
Long (37')
yellow card
Young (43') Valencia (69') Lukaku (82') Herrera (88')
Referee: Craig Pawson | Venue: St Mary's Stadium | Attendance: 31,930

Southampton stood toe-to-toe with Premier League high-fliers Manchester United at St Mary's, but were ultimately left to reflect on another cruel defeat to José Mourinho's side.

Saints, who were beaten in harsh circumstances in the EFL Cup final by the same opponents last season, were again edged out here, as Romelu Lukaku's first-half goal settled the match. 

It was far from what Saints deserved, with little between the sides in the opening half, while the hosts dominated proceedings after the interval.

Unfortunately, though, they could not find a way through, and were left to reflect on a second successive home defeat in the Premier League.

It is one, however, that Saints can no doubt take some significant positives from as they look ahead to next week's visit to Stoke and the rest of the campaign.

Mauricio Pellegrino named an unchanged XI from the side that beat Crystal Palace 1-0 a week previously, although there were some changes on the bench, as Jérémy Pied, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and Charlie Austin were names as subs, with Matt Targett, Jack Stephens and Sofiane Boufal missing out on the squad.

There was little to speak of in terms of chances in the early stages of the game, and Saints would have been pleased with how they were containing the threat of the opposition, but they couldn’t prevent United taking a 20th-minute lead with their first real opportunity of the match.

Ashley Young worked room on the left for a cross, which Lukaku leapt to meet six yards out. Fraser Forster made a sensational save from the forward’s header, but the ball fell fortuitously back to the striker to tap home.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 23: Romelu Lukaku of Manchester United scores the opening goal during the Premier League match between Southampton and Manchester United at St Mary's Stadium on September 23, 2017 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Lukaku gives United a 20th-minute lead.

The visitors went close to a second goal in the 27th minute, Marcus Rashford sending a dipping free-kick from 25 yards inches wide of the post, after Maya Yoshida had been judged to have tripped Juan Mata.

Shane Long was the first player into the book, as he caught Marouane Fellaini from behind, ten minutes later, before Nemanja Matić was also cautioned after bringing down Dušan Tadić.

The first half would bring no further action, but the second saw Saints get onto the front foot.

Pellegrino’s side had a big opportunity to equalise just five minutes after the restart, as Tadić’s low, in-swinging corner hit Maya Yoshida and spun into space six yards out. Oriol Romeu reacted quickest, but he could only stretch out and fire wide.

Nathan Redmond then tested David De Gea with a stinging low shot, as he cut onto his right foot on the corner of the area, but the United keeper was equal to the near-post effort.

Long was next to threaten, as he nearly raced onto a ball in behind the United defence, only to go down under the challenge of last man Phil Jones. There was a big appeal from the striker and the home fans for a foul right on the edge of the area, but referee Craig Pawson let play continue.

Steven Davis was then presented with an opening 25 yards out, but, on his lesser-favoured left foot, he fired over.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 23: Southampton FC near miss during the Premier League match between Southampton and Manchester United at St Mary's Stadium on September 23, 2017 in Southampton, England. (Photo by James Bridle - Southampton FC/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Oriol Romeu goes agonisingly close.

Saints’ pressure prompted José Mourinho into the first change of the afternoon, as Ander Herrera replaced Juan Mata in the 62nd minute.

The hosts still had to be alert at the other end, as United threatened in the 66th minute, Henrikh Mkhitaryan feeding Lukaku down the inside right, before Forster made an excellent save with his foot.

Still, it was only a temporary respite for the visitors, as Saints went straight back to applying the pressure, with Romeu threatening with a header from a corner, ahead of Redmond testing De Gea again with another low shot.

Antonio Valencia was then booked, as he went in hard on Davis, before the Saints midfielder was withdrawn in a tactical change for Manolo Gabbiadini.

Gabbiadini was quickly involved in a beautiful move that saw him link up with Tadić, who in turn played a brilliant pass in behind for Romeu, whose first-time shot across goal with his left foot flashed just wide of the far post.

Herrera could have settled matters at the other end, as Lukaku got to the byline and cut the ball back to him in space just inside the area, but the midfielder curled his right-footed shot a couple of yards wide.

With eight minutes left, Pellegrino made a double switch, throwing on Austin for Long and James Ward-Prowse for Cédric.

Saints continued to push, but, try as they might, they could not find the goal and the result that their performance merited.

Match Sponsor: Utilita Energy

Head to Head Stats

Manchester United
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Fraser Forster (GK)
Cédric Soares
replace James Ward-Prowse (83′)
Maya Yoshida
Wesley Hoedt
Ryan Bertrand
Dusan Tadic
Oriol Romeu
Nathan Redmond
Steven Davis (C)
replace Manolo Gabbiadini (73′)
Mario Lemina
Shane Long yellow card
replace Charlie Austin (83′)
Alex McCarthy
Manolo Gabbiadini
Charlie Austin
Virgil van Dijk
James Ward-Prowse
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg
Jérémy Pied

Manchester United

David de Gea (GK)
Phil Jones
Eric Bailly
Ashley Young yellow card
Antonio Valencia (C) yellow card
Marcus Rashford
replace Daley Blind (93′)
Marouane Fellaini
Juan Mata
replace Ander Herrera (62′) yellow card
Henrikh Mkhitaryan
replace Chris Smalling (75′)
Nemanja Matic
Romelu Lukaku yellow card goal
Jesse Lingard
Anthony Martial
Michael Carrick
Sergio Romero
Chris Smalling
Daley Blind
Ander Herrera
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