Manchester United will consider this weekend’s early kick-off as two points dropped, after they drew 1-1 with ten men Southampton at St Mary’s.
Daniel James gave United the lead with his third goal since signing for the club in the summer, but the home side rallied through Jannik Vestergaard’s second-half header.
Despite playing out the remaining 20 minutes of the match a man down after Kevin Danso’s sending off, Saints earned a hard-fought draw to leave Ole Gunnar Solskjaer frustrated and still looking for an away win this season.
In a week where United had moved on Chris Smalling (Roma) and Alexis Sanchez (Inter) from the club, both sides made changes. Ralph Hasenhüttl brought in Sofiane Boufal and Cedric Soares for Yan Valery and Nathan Redmond, with Ashley Young, Juan Mata and Andreas Pereira replacing Luke Shaw, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial for United.
It was actually Saints that started the brighter, outnumbering United in midfield, pressing high up the pitch and Sofiane Boufal dragging a shot wide early on.
However, it the away team’s first real attack that brought about the first goal of the game. James was given far too much room on the left, before cutting inside and firing into the top corner and leaving Angus Gunn a spectator in the process.
That goal woke Solskjaer's side up, with their wide men seeing plenty of the ball and Scott McTominay and Aaron Wan-Bissaka both having chances, before James tested Gunn with a fizzing effort from the edge of the box.
The more the half progressed, the more space United’s attacking players found themselves in, particularly in wide areas. The best Saints could muster up before the interval were speculative snapshots from distance.
The second half appeared as though it would offer up more of the same, with only five minutes gone before an otherwise anonymous Marcus Rashford went close with two chances within 30 seconds of each other, both blocked as he closed in on goal.
Southampton, however, rallied. Ten minutes in, after a poor touch from Victor Lindelof, James Ward-Prowse and Sofiane Boufal linked up nicely after a poor touch from Victor Lindelof to slip in new signing Che Adams, who blazed wide from a tight angle.
Thankfully for Saints, it proved to be only a matter of minutes before their goal. When United failed to clear a corner from the left, Danso picked up the loose ball to send back in again. His cross was met by Vestergaard who nodded home with a commanding header.
Just as United were buoyed from their first-half strike, so to the home side after their equaliser. Romeu and Hojbjerg began getting on the ball, their full-backs got further forward and David de Gea finally saw some action.
Solskjaer reacted immediately, bringing on Jesse Lingard and Nemanja Matic come on for Andreas Pereira and Juan Mata, allowing Pogba to take up a more advanced role.
With just under 20 minutes to go Danso hauled down McTominay on the halfway line to earn his second booking of the match. In a defensive rejig, Maya Yoshia replaced Danny Ings to leave substitute Shane Long the sole attacking focal point for the ten men.
Unsurprisingly, the remainder of the game was played out with United camped out in the final third, although without creating too much.
Mason Greenwood had a soft penalty shout turned down, Lingard guided a low shot wide of the bottom right post, Greenwood warmed Gunn’s palms with a tame effort and Young’s 20-yard effort sailed over.
Saints sat in and defended their point well but the lack of creativity remains a concern for Solskjaer's troops going forward. For Southampton, after a poor first half, Hasenhüttl will be pleased with how his team responded in the second half, particularly after going down a man down.
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