IBO Reporter : Spot51
|Screened live by BT (again) I could not face the hour of pre-match talk which I recorded and fast-forwarded through apart from the manager’s interviews. Ian (the Skate) Darke was commentating again but this time his partner in crime, Hoddle, was a studio guest alongside Paul Scholes. After RR and RH had said nice things about each other, Glenda suggested United should appoint RH as their coach to work alongside his mate. Still sore about Wednesday Glen?
On the gantry with Darke was Martin Keown. Saints, in yellow, kicked off and inside 15 seconds the Skate had mentioned last season’s 9-0. Twat! Stu and Moi were detailed to help the full-backs and Stu was involved early, helping KWP close down Sancho.
On 3m, Broja skinned Varane on the right touchline and drove a cross beyond all the yellow shirts. Pogba then found Rashford in a similar position and he too stuck his cross beyond the far post. Their next attack came down the left but Alfa was quick to intercept allowing FF to collect the loose ball.
Saints high press won the ball on 6m, allowing Ché to shoot from distance but too high to trouble De Gea. It was end-to-end stuff. CR7 broke into our box, rounded Fraser and rolled the ball goal-wards; not hard enough though, Perraud blocked it and Salisu hacked the ball away. On 9m a brilliant Saints move cut United apart. Romeu found Stu who gave it to Moi. His cross-field ball reached KWP at the far post who tried to find Adams. Sadly Ché lost his footing and his header went away from goal. JWP came steaming in and only a brave block by Luke Shaw saved United.
The Reds quickly broke away, Sancho cutting into our box and forcing a good save from Fraser. Their next attacks both came down the right. First Dalot’s forward pass eluded Bruno F then Salisu got his body between Rashford and the ball to shepherd it behind for a goal kick. Moi then won a corner which, surprisingly, he took. He tried to pick out Stu’s near post run but a United head got the ball clear.
United’s next foray forward was cleared up with KWP bringing the ball out. Before being clattered by McTominay. On 18m Rashford was carded for a foul on our other full-back. United then survived the first Salisu long throw before enjoying a period of sustained possession but we defended soundly. When Pogba fouled Bednarek, the Skate took the opportunity to bring up the Pole’s red card here last season: didn’t mention that it was subsequently rescinded, the fish fondler.
On 21m, United went ahead. Bruno F had time and space to ping a long ball forward, The Interceptor tried to intercept but could not, leaving Rashford sprinting into acres of space. He saw Sancho at the back post and pinged the ball towards him taking Fraser out of the equation. KWP slid in but he too got nothing on it and the England man scored from close range: 1-0 United.
Saints went straight onto the attack but Pogba did well to bring the ball out from their right back area. United were now seeing more of the ball and a Fernandes free kick was too high for Pogba but grabbed by our giant keeper. Then the Frenchman tried to play in CR7 but a swarm of yellow shirts brought the ball away. Moi was regularly being fouled by McTominay and after a coming together in United’s box the Scot clearly stepped on our mans calf. A VAR check decided it was “accidental” as any other interpretation might have given the Scot an early bath.
On 36m another slick passing move saw JWP and Romeu create a shooting opportunity that Stu fired just the wrong side of the near post. United were being pushed back now and KWP was able to deliver a cross that eluded everyone. Broja then won a corner which, this time, JWP came over to take. His cross dropped to Alfa. Recently the Spaniard has been booming his shots over the bar. This time he kept it down – but stuck it wide! Our next attack garnered a Salisu long throw. This one was knocked into the danger area. Despite being at an awkward height, Stu managed to get his foot to the ball and steer it goal-wards. De Gea made a diving save.
United made a rare foray forward with CR7 breaking into our box. When he arrived, Romeu had nicked the ball away and Saints cleared the danger. At the other end, Moi played the ball to Perraud who moved across the edge of United’s area. When he finally worked a shooting angle, he had to take it with his swinger but was on target and drew another sprawling save from De Gea.
In the +2m of added time, CR7 got the ball into our net but did not celebrate as he knew he was well offside. Half time arrived – 1-0 down but still very much in this match. The weather worsened and rain fell in stair rods throughout the interval.
Jan Bednarek did not appear for the 2nd half. Ralph sent on Jack Stephens who slotted in and did his share of defending. Saints went back on the attack, Perraud finding Moi down our left. Cutting inside, Moi sent a reverse pass behind Dalot to Che running in from out. He looked up, saw the keeper at his near post and curled a beautiful shot beyond him, off the back stick and in. 1-1 and game on.
United were stung into action. CR7 led the charge but was foiled by a wonderful challenge by Jack that enabled Fraser to clear the ball. United’s next break saw Sancho running down the left but Saliusu was across to take the ball and set up another Saints attack. KWP played the ball inside, where Stu rushed his shot – and missed. Had he laid the ball to his left, Ché was in for another 1 on 1.
Saints then won 2 corners, the first when the keeper turned Broja’s shot behind and the second when a United head was first to JWP’s kick. The second corner reached Stu but he lost the ball and United broke at speed. Ché Adams sprinted the length of the pitch, tackled, won the ball and saved Saints’ bacon. Martin Keown loved that.
United’s next attack saw the ref make one of his few dodgy decisions. A lofted ball down their left found KWP tracking Sancho’s run. The ball dropped over his shoulder and hit the defender’s hand. The rules now state that only “deliberate” handballs should be penalised: yet when United’s players, bench and stadium full of plastics shout “handball” he bloody gives it. KWP wasn’t even looking at it, you clown. Fortunately, that mistake was not costly. The free kick did reach Maguire and he did get a shot on target, but Fraser’s size 14 boot lashed the ball high and away.
Around the hour mark the game got a bit scrappy before United had 2 decent chances to go ahead. First CR7’s shot was pushed away by Fraser but the ball fell to Dalot who smashed it goal-wards. The big keeper got in the way and the ball went out for a corner. When the ball came in, Pogba tried an overhead but missed. Saints’ defence have improved no end in recent weeks. Rashford tried his luck on the left and tried to skin KWP. No chance – our man came out with the ball. On 65m another fantastic Saints passing move cut United to shreds. Stu really should have put us in front but skied his effort with just the keeper to beat. Bugger!
Rashford’s next foray forward found Alfa in his path and again he had the ball taken from him. Again Saints went close, Moi playing the ball through to Broja who outpaced Maguire but mishit his shot from a good position. Bugger again!
Moi then fouled Pogba giving United a free kick from the right. Bruno F swung the ball in, Ronaldo put it in the net but Saints defensive line had not moved. When the kick was taken about 8 of theirs (CR7 included) were offside. Because we were at Old Trafford, the plastics needed to see it on VAR before believing they weren’t ahead. On 71m, Saints made their 2nd change with Tino replacing Elyounoussi. He went to right back, KWP to wide right and Stu to the left. McTominay was eventually carded for his fouls so it was no surprise when he was replaced by Elonga.
When De Gea conceded a throw down our right, Salisu made the long diagonal trek up-field to take it. United immediately won the ball and broke forward at speed. Fortunately Jack had stayed back and was able to cover when they lost the ball. Adams then needed treatment but was able to stay on a while longer.
Rashford had one last shot (wide) before he was replaced by Lingard. Saints then broke up-field and, amusingly, when they won a throw down our right, Jack told Mo to stay put and he came forward to take it. As Pobga advanced down that wing, the Tino/KWP combo took the ball off him and he tripped the former. Whether he was booked for that or the subsequent backchat I’m not sure.
JWP swung in the free kick which United won and poured forward. CR7 again got into a dangerous position but a magnificent sliding challenge by Romeu sent the ball back to Fraser. In the other box, Maguire “accidentally” stepped on the prostrate Broja and there was no foul play – again.
In the 90th minute Lingard was booked for fouling Adams and we moved into +5m. In United’s next attack Ché took the opportunity to foul Lingard. He wasn’t booked, but gave United another chance to put the ball into the mixer. This was a great cross. It landed right on Maguire’s head, he made good contact, headed downwards but Fraser’s huge left glove scooped it off the line and away. In a game when both keeper’s had earned their money, that was probably the save of the match.
United kept up the pressure, Tino heading behind for another corner. Saints continued to keep them at bay and, probably to disrupt United’s rhythm, Ralph made his last substitution (Diallo for Romeu) deep into added time. We were therefore into the 96th minute when Mr Attwell blew the whistle. 1-1 against United for the second time this season meaning neither of the Manchester clubs have beaten us. A vast improvement on last year’s 9-0 too: shows what can happen when you have an honest ref!
Man of the Match
|Martin Keown made Sky’s choice and picked Ché Adams. Good shout but, for the second game running, there were good performances all over the park. MOTD picked out Stu and Moi for special praise nut I’d already made up my mind when the game finished. Romeu was immense for Saints for the second time this week. He kept the ball moving forward when we had it but, out of possession, he was like a demon – tracking and tackling United’s stars, breaking up their moves and outing the boot in as required. I swear the man improves with age. Keep it up, Sir. Alfa is my MoM.