Manchester United moved to fourth in the English Premier League table standings as they were forced to dig deep at Old Trafford against a stubborn travelling Southampton FC. The Saints got their goals courtesy of stunning strikes from Yan Valery and James Ward-Prowse at either half while the hosts had Romelu Lukaku bag in a brace in addition to a sensational masterpiece from Andreas Pereira.
Following Arsenal’s draw with Tottenham Hotspurs earlier, the hosts knew what was at stake and they came off the gutters early as the Saints goalkeeper Angus Gunn was forced to make three vital saves within the first six minutes of the match courtesy of sweet strikes from Romelu Lukaku (2) and Andreas Pereira.
Manchester United seemed very comfortable in the game as they dominated each possesion. Southampton however didn’t give in that quick as they created a goal scoring opportunity from a corner, as Jaanick Vestergaard, poorly marked by Scott McTominay rose highest for a free header only for the ball to go over the bar.
With United having won only once at home against Southampton at the Old Trafford, the visitors looked to gain confidence as they had a penalty appeal waived off after Chris Smalling tugged Bertrand’s shirt in the 18 yard area. Lucky escape for United!
It would not take long for the visitors to get something on the mark as Charlie Austin connected well with an unmarked Valery who took advantage of a retreating Luke Shaw to fire in a spectacular shot past David De Gea from around 23 yards away. De Gea did get a touch but it wasn’t enough to keep out the debut goal for the 20 year old Saints youngster.
With Southampton having a clearly wonderful and unexpected afternoon, they continued to pile in more pressure on the United back line as Pierre Emile Hojbjerg shot straight at David De Gea. The Saints would take a half time lead as the hosts failed to make use of their great wealth of possession plus numerous goalscoring opportunities.
Things looked to take a turn to the worst for United as Alexis Sanchez came out injured, five minutes into the second half with Diogo Dalot coming in. It was his second touch that had a difference as he teed up with Andreas Pereira, who curled in an impressive shot past Gunn metres put of the 18 yard box. What a way to score a debut Premier League goal and an equalizer at the Stretford end. Definitely a Goal of the month contender!
Manchester United were on top gear after that goal as the crowd got in the groove. Indeed, the hosts got the lead five minutes later as Romelu Lukaku hit a low shot past Gunn at the left side corner and just like that, United were riding high and seemed to overrun a poor Southampton team.
The home crowd had suddenly come into life as the three points looked to be in the bag for United. This was not to be the case as Ashley Young fouled Stuart Armstrong 20 yards away from goal. It was Ward-Prowse who produced a moment if magic as he drove his free kick at the top right corner past David De Gea to resume parity at Old Trafford with 15 minutes remaining! What a way to silence the noisy home crowd!
From then on, Manchester United seemed to be headed to another draw against Southampton as the visitors won numerous corner kicks and as United struggled to maintain a calm head.
It was Romelu Lukaku yet again who sent the home fans wild as he curled in a low shot past Yoshida and Gunn into the bottom left corner to give Manchester United the lead again! Lukaku however got a yellow card after removing his shirt in celebration to what could have been the match winner.
United held on to possession in the closing stages and were even awarded a late penalty after Marcus Rashford was brought down in the area by Stuart Armstrong. Paul Pogba however missed the spotkick as his shot in the middle was hacked away by the keeper’s foot.
Ole Gunnar later brought in Academy product Tahith Chong, as Manchester United closed out a ninth comeback victory over Southampton FC in the English Premier League.
With the two stunning strikes from the visitors, Southampton FC became the only team after Manchester City in September 2009 to score two goals from outside the box at Old Trafford.
The win takes Manchester United fourth in the league with 58 points, 1 point above fifth placed Arsenal FC and 3 points below Tottenham Hotspurs. What a game at Old Trafford! Southampton might leave as the frustrated team as they remain in 17th position with 27 points, 2 above the relegation place occupied by Cardiff City.
Southampton next face Tottenham Hotspurs in a league match at the St.Mary’s Stadium on Saturday as United are set to face off with Paris Saint Germain in a UEFA Champions League round of 16 reverse fixture in France.