Amidst all the praise pouring their way regarding their scoring sprees in recent games, Manchester United found it difficult to score at St Mary’s on Saturday. Nevertheless, one is all the need and they did get it through Romelu Lukaku and won the game against struggling Southampton 1-0.
Lukaku was the only one on the scoresheet, despite efforts from Southampton’s Shane Long, Nathan Redmond, Dusan Tadic, and Charlie Austin.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 23, 2017
The game was truly a game of two halves as United’s dominance during the first half was depleted by the time the second half rolled in, with the Red Devils content with defending and protecting their early lead.
Southampton started the game off and were immediately on the attack. However, their first attempt at creating a chance – a Nathan Redmond corner – fizzled out as it was cleared by Phil Jones, reaching Marcus Rashford in Saints’ half. A minute later, United notch their first attempt on target thanks to a Henrikh Mkhitaryan shot, which is saved by goalkeeper Fraser Forster.
This formula would dominate the rest of the first half. Indeed, Southampton would get a few chances at goal, but United would easily repel the attack and would be near-lethal on the counter. True enough, United would eventually unlock Southampton’s defence and score thanks to a poacher’s effort from Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian heads in the ball from a Young cross, with the shot blocked by Forster. The ball gets spilled, however, and the former Everton striker chips the ball in for the goal.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) September 23, 2017
Southampton would soon get their rhythm back and notch in a few attacks near the half-time whistle, but none would even get near inside United’s six-yard box.
The second half was a different story altogether for Southampton. Getting their groove on – which they managed by adding an extra man in midfield, saw the Saints pull off attack after attack. Shane Long pulled off a close one at the hour mark with the ball going over.
The home side’s Spanish midfielder Oriel Romeu also got one nearly in from an angle with a left footed shot, beating United’s world-class keeper David de Gea, but the ball goes a mere inches wide. This was Southampton’s best chance of the game, but alas, despite more attempts on goal – and a five minute stoppage time – they would not be able to find the equaliser they needed.
United manager Jose Mourinho even got sent off in the closing minutes of the game, with reasons unclear. And yet, no matter what he feels regarding the referee, he must feel good about this match’s result in the end.