Southampton v Manchester Utd
2nd December 2018
Cédric scored as perfect a free kick as you are ever likely to see.
IBO Reporter : Spot51
Whilst I bear Glenn Hoddle no particular ill-will, having him “retired hurt” from pontificating on BT Sport matches is quite a bonus. On Saturday the studio pundits were Franny Benali and Michael Owen. When I switched on, they were examining Saints recent form – a grisly tale of lousy defending and missed chances. I was staggered when they put up a stat showing “Chances created in the Prem this Season”: Saints were ranked 3rd!!!
Jose complained that Phil Jones was his only fit centre-half then went to great lengths to “Big-up” Saints, “a very good Premier League club” but when the pundits got around to examining his team, they demonstrated that United are the least active side in the league. This was borne out by what followed where virtually all United’s possession was at slow, walking pace. On the 2 occasions Rashford injected some pace, they ripped us apart.
Darren Fletcher was doing commentary with Steve McManaman as his side-kick. United wore navy and white and lined up 3-5-2 which formation pretty much matched ours. Hughes had clearly been impressed by 2 of the nippers who played at Leicester last week, giving a 1st PL start to Obafemi and a debut to Yann Valery.
Saints won the first FK but a United head sent it back upfield. Maya saw off Lukaku when United attacked but moments later McCarthy made a gross error, missing his kick and allowing Rashford to find Lukaku. At least the Saints stopper moved quickly to block the Belgian’s shot and Saints were able to clear.
Another alarming stat was produced by the commentator: Saints had won 23 of the last 75 available points at home. On cue, Young carried the ball pretty much the length of the pitch but, as he shaped to shoot, Vestergaard got his considerable frame in the way and disaster was averted. At the other end, Redmond and Obafemi looked lively, combining to create a chance for the youngster, but Jones blocked it. Much of the game was taking place in midfield. It was untidy stuff from both sides but Pogba was particularly wasteful, caught in possession by the industrious Armstrong.
Then, on 13m, Saints fashioned a lovely opening goal. Redmond collected the ball on the right and cut across the edge of United’s box. He rode a couple of tackles before finding his strike partner. With awareness beyond his years, Obefemi slid a perfect pass to the right where Armstrong had found space. The Scostsman smashed his shot beyond De Gea into the far corner. 1-0 Saints.
Armstrong continued to trouble United and Fellaini was lucky to avoid a card for felling him. At the back, Saints looked secure with Yoshida marshalling the back three. On 18m Lemina robbed Rashford and headed towards goal. The England man executed a typical “forward’s tackle” taking man, ball and much else in his attempt to regain possession. Mr Friend gave us a free kick.
Cédric was playing left wing-back to allow Valery to play on the right. He stood over the ball with some purpose. With the referee finally content about United’s wall, the Portuguese strode up and curled a sweet shot over the wall, beyond the reach of De Gea, into the top corner. The commentator reckoned this was Cédric’s first PL goal and on his 100th appearance too: but Saints 2-0 inside 20m: FFS!
United showed a little more desire and won a free-kick for PEH’s foul on Fellaini. Young’s cross was cleared and moments later Shaw was stopped by Valery’s bone crunching tackle. When Pogba was fouled near the left touchline, Rashford’s cross was headed behind for a corner. This was knocked away to United’s right and recovered by McTominey. His horrid cross sailed behind our goal.
Most of United’s possession was in their own half, but on 28m Lukaku looked to turn and shoot on the edge of our box. He rolled the ball too near Rashford, who blasted it high into the night sky. Cédric then won a corner up the other end. The ball eventually returned to Armstrong, but he could not get his shot away.
On 32m Rashford outpaced Stephens and delivered the ball to Lukaku. Vestergaard was covering and got it away safely. When United’s next attack broke down, Redmond moved purposefully upfield; before over-hitting his pass out of play. United then broke from the back. The ball was played to Pogba who found Rashford. United’s #10 held off Yoshida and played in Lukaku in space. His shot was smashed past McCarthy: 2-1.
Yellow cards then started to appear: Fellaini for a foul on Lemina and PEH on Pogba. Valery kept finding himself face to face with Pogba and was doing O.K. On 37m, PEH was fouled by Herrera. The captain pulled rank, struck it himself and it flew over the bar.
Within 2 minutes, United were level. Our back 3 had looked OK getting heads on crosses and blocking shots but were undone by the pace of Rashford. He sped into our box, reached the by-line and cut the ball back to the near post. Herrera had timed his run perfectly and tucked the ball past McCarthy. 2-2. Boo!
Thankfully, Saints were able to dig in and avoid conceding again before half time. Shaw won a corner, but Stephens cleared. Saints then pushed United back, but Lemina’s shot and Stephen’s cross were blocked. In the 2 added minutes, Herrera got a clean shot away, but it went straight into McCarthy’s midriff and was held. There was still time for Redmond to win us a corner. Armstrong took it, but the ball was returned to him. Looking to curl it into the corner, he put too much on it and sent the ball into the away fans. HT = 2-2.
There were no changes after half time and on 47m Shaw won another corner which was cleared. United then created a presentable chance when Young’s free kick reached Fellaini. You’ve seen the tall Belgian bury these, but thankfully this header sailed wide. Pogba was booked for a foul on Lemina. Apparently, they played together in French youth sides. Moments after shaking hands Lemina fouled Pogba earning a 5th yellow and a suspension against Spurs. Pogba kept looking for another killer pass but his next effort was intercepted by Vestergaard.
The Frenchman’s next action involved a foul on Obafemi. This time Redmond took a pot at goal. It was on target but did not trouble De Gea. Vestergaard was then booked for tripping McTominey. Young’s free kick was headed out by Yoshida. The resulting corner dropped for Luke Shaw but he shot with his swinger and curled it well wide. Saints next attack saw Obafemi pull up, grabbing his hamstring. Moments later he was brought down in the box by McTominey, but the ref showed no interest. United broke away, but Young’s rubbish cross flew behind. Hughes was then obliged to bring off Obafemi for Gabbi.
United then broke away, but crunching tackles by Stephens on Lukaku and then Shaw saw them off. On 67m McTominey shot from about 50 yards and missed by almost as much. Saints then attacked down their right, Armstrong setting up Gabbi who drew a save from De Gea. At the other end, a Pogba overhead was claimed by McC and we had a few minutes of end to end football. This ended when Shaw went down hurt and was replaced by Dalot. He went to right back, with Young moving to the left. Both sides were then guilty of poor crosses, the best being Redmond’s which was close to finding Gabbi. Indeed, Saints now looked the more enterprising team. Redmond’s run and shot missed the target, but a firm effort from distance by PEH needed saving.
My Fantasy Team were dealt (another) blow, when United replaced Rashford with Martial on 77m. Making their top scorer my captain seemed a reasonable shout, but I’d have scored better had he stayed on the bench. Curse you Mourinho!
Redmond continued to threaten, but there was no end product until 80m, when he launched a fierce drive that De Gea tipped over. Redmond’s centre was met by PEH who headed wide. In the last 10m we saw two excellent blocks – the first saw Gabbi, fed by PEH, see his effort cannon off a United body. Then Yoshida make sure Lukaku was unable to get his shot away. The big Belgian didn’t look right and was soon replaced by Lingard.
Saints kept looking for a winner, with Gabbi again thwarted after good work by Lemina. Right on 90m, Højbjerg fouled Martial, so the 4 added minutes began with another Young free kick. He swung it in over heads where it was safely collected by McC. Yoshida then made another important clearance and Macca revealed his “Sky MoM” was Redmond.
On 92m Davis came on for Lemina. His first touch saw Gabbi sprinting after his pass, only to be upended by Young. He too collected a 5th yellow and misses United’s game with Arsenal. Gabbi took the kick himself but it sailed well over the United bar. Next Armstrong was carded for a foul on Young. United’s captain took the kick himself but a Saints head met his cross and Mr Friend signalled full time.
So 2-2, a reasonable game and a point to lift us above Burnley. However, a frustrated Redmond told the Sky interviewer that the draw was not enough – which pleased Franny who concurred. Indeed, as we now know, another home game with no win was the last straw for the Saints hierarchy and Hughes and his Welsh coaches were fired first thing Monday. There were plus points from our team though, not least the defensive solidity after half time. Once we can be that effective for 90m, things will change.
Man of the Match
Recent performances have rarely warranted naming a Man of the Match but Saturday saw some better ones; our two teenagers both acquitted themselves well, Redmond looked up for it and Yoshida (usually) seemed unflustered at the back. However, for me, one player looked a class above. His talent and effort will be crucial as Saints aim to move out of relegation trouble. Take a bow – Mario Lemina!
Armstrong scored a cracking goal after a great assist by Obafemi
4 Vestergaard - Booked 59'
23 Højbjerg - Booked 35'
18 Lemina - Booked 54' (Davis 90'+2)
17 Armstrong - Booked 90'
61 Obafemi (Gabbiadini 64')
1 De Gea
18 Young - Booked 90'
23 Shaw (Dalot 72')
27 Fellaini - Booked 35'
6 Pogba 53'
9 Lukaku (Lingard 86')
10 Rashford - Booked 18' (Martial 77')
Saturday 1st December
- Armstrong 13'
- Cédric 20'
Man United 2
- Lukaku 33'
- Herrera 39'
Referee: Kevin Friend
- Southampton 40%
- Man Utd 60%
- Southampton 16
- Man Utd 11
Shots on Target
- Southampton 6
- Man Utd 5
- Southampton 3
- Man Utd 5
- Southampton 12
- Man Utd 13