Manchester United v Southampton
2nd March 2019
Yan Valery's first goal for the club was an absolute corker
IBO Reporter : channonite
Bloody Hell! What. A. Game. Gutted!
What a referee as well, a complete banker.
To round off a packed week, which included the priceless win against Fulham, it was time to face ManU away. Never an easy place to go to, thanks to the blatant intimidation of referees, let alone the quality of the side. This time they didn't even need resort to that sort of thing. Do you get the impression that I was considerably less than impressed with Stuart Atwell?
The starting line-up for Saints was the exact same one as started the Fulham game on Wednesday. Makes a refreshing change from the randomness of the Hughes era. It gives you the impression that Hasenhüttl actually knows what he is doing.
Straight from the kick-off there was none of the usual cageyness that you often see and both teams were on the front foot. The first chance fell to Lukaku, who got in behind the Saints defenders and picked off a half-clearance from Højbjerg, before firing a shot that Gunn did well to get down and tip around the far upright.
Then came the moment when you knew the ref had got it seriously wrong. Saints had played the ball around, maintaining possession, Redmond played a superb pass in from the left, right to Bertrand's feet in the penalty area. Smalling was right with him and brought him down from behind, with a combination of fistfuls of shirt and a move straight out of WWF. A clear penalty, but not according to Mr Atwell. Bertrand was not impressed. Nor was I. The replay just made it look worse.
Saints were looking threatening and things got even better just before the half-hour. Redmond and Austin combined well on the left, with Austin spotting Yan Valery all on his own out on the right. He slotted an inch perfect pass through to the young Frenchman, who lined up and shot from all of 25 yards out. It was an absolute screamer and De Gea could only palm it into the roof of the net. What a way to score your first goal for Saints! 0-1.
United were finding themselves harried at every turn and the team in yellow and blue were giving them a torrid time. As a result ManU were making mistakes. Austin picked the ball up in midfield, passed wide left to Redmond with Bertrand haring between the pair of them towards the United area. Redmond stroked the ball forward for the Saints left back to pick up, but before he could get to it, he was unceremoniously hauled down by Ashley Young. Replays showed Young grabbing his right arm and pulling him down. A clear penalty, but not according to Mr. Atwell. Again. Bertrand could only laugh this time. Pathetic refereeing.
At half time then, it was 0-1 to Saints and it was an electric, pulsating game. Another 45 minutes of this? Yes please!
The second half picked up where the first finished. End to end stuff, no 'parking the bus' by either side thank goodness. The moment that changed the second half was actually an injury to Sanchez, who had to come off. His replacement was the young Portuguese, Diogo Dalot. He immediately caused havoc on Saints left. Virtually his first contribution nearly brought a goal, with an inch perfect cross being headed wide of the near post by Rashford.
Before you could even draw breath came the equaliser. A stunning goal from Brazilian Andreas Pereira. Picking the ball up in the middle of the pitch he strode forward and unleashed a shot that gave Gunn absolutely no chance at all. Fantastic. 1-1 and the goals were two absolute crackers.
Too often in recent years we have seen Saints heads go down after conceding, but not now. No, they went straight up the other end and caused all sorts of problems, but it fizzled out. The play went down the other end and United passed quickly; Pogba to Shaw, to Rashford, to Lukaku, who picked his spot, just inside the far post and it was 2-1. Just like that. Another quality goal. Damn.
Saints broken? No chance. They came back even stronger and had a couple of half chances. Austin was clearly knackered again and was duly replaced by Stuart Armstrong. The Scot was then fouled by Ashley Young right in front of goal, just outside the penalty area. The referee awarded a free kick. James Ward-Prowse lined up the kick, just slightly to the left of centre and BANG! 2-2. De Gea hardly got near it. Tremendous strike. All square with 15 minutes to go.
Time ticked by and with Gallagher on the sidelines waiting to come on, United passed around, without looking dangerous. Until the ball got to Lukaku. He swivelled and crashed his shot past Gunn. 3-2.
There were only a couple of minutes of normal time remaining. Saints players had fallen to their knees, crushed. Into this came Gallagher, replacing Yoshida.
There was still time for one final act in this dramatic match, when Rashford went racing into the area, Bednarek half tackled him, but probably enough to stop him, when Armstrong came racing across and needlessly upended the United player. Penalty. Oh, so now you can recognise a penalty Mr Atwell? Pogba stepped up to take the penalty kick and struck firmly to the right, with Gunn diving the other way. But somehow Gunn managed to kick the ball away with his left foot. Absolutely amazing save. It looked even better on the replay.
There was just time to kick off again, but that was effectively that. An absolutely cracking game, just a pity about the result. Although Saints lost, I was just incredibly proud of my team in that moment. I couldn't award a single MoM, because they all performed way above the levels seen earlier in the season. We will be fine if they keep up this sort of performance, but score one more goal than the opposition, obviously.
A stunning free kick from JWP brought the score to 2-2
1 De Gea
15 Pereira (Fred 82')
6 Pogba - Booked 90'
7 Sánchez (Dalot 52')
10 Rashford (Chong 90+5')
9 Lukaku - Booked 89'
3 Yoshida (Gallagher 90')
21 Bertrand - Booked 39'
10 Austin (Armstrong 63')
Saturday 2nd March
- Pereira 53'
- Lukaku 59', 88'
- Valery 26'
- Ward-Prowse 75'
Referee: Stuart Attwell (ManUtd)
- Manchester United 64%
- Southampton 36%
- Manchester United 16
- Southampton 9
Shots on Target
- Manchester United 6
- Southampton 3
- Manchester United 9
- Southampton 7
- Manchester United 7
- Southampton 10