A sunny afternoon at St Mary’s was the setting for an absorbing encounter between Southampton and Manchester United.
Coming into the game off the back of a frustrating defeat at Everton last week, it is fair to suggest that there were very few Saints fans who started the day optimistically, especially given the nature of United’s emphatic victory over Leeds eight days ago.
Some eye catching summer signings, including Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane, coupled with an inform pairing of Pogba and Fernandes did not bode well for a Southampton side in transition following the sale of Ings and Vestergaard. Yet football’s ability to rip up the form book and to provide surprises is a huge part of its tremendous appeal.
Ralph Hasenhuttl bravely opted to stick with the starting eleven which started so brightly at Goodison Park and imploded so dramatically in the second half. To put it mildly, the Southampton fanbase were unimpressed with the selection but there was an air of forgiveness amongst supporters, many of whom were eagerly returning to live football for the first time in 18 months.
After some initial chances which went begging for United, the hosts grew into the game with Livramento and Perraud looking lively on either flank. A powerful but ultimately fair challenge by Jack Stephens on the half hour mark led to Saints winning the ball back high up the pitch and after some excellent link up play between Armstrong, Djenepo and Adams, the latter was able to beat De Gea with the aid of a deflection.
The Red Devils managed to get back into the game after the break, with the impressive Pogba heavily involved in setting up Mason Greenwood for the equaliser but from then onwards, United looked both offensively impotent and wasteful in possession. Ironically Saints finished the stronger team with Adam Armstrong drawing an excellent save after to being played in by the industrious Che Adams.
As the referee Craig Pawson blew for full time, cheers of elation and relief rang out across St Mary’s as the Saints faithful celebrated a well deserved point.
Here is a look at the performances of three key players during the match: