Report: Southampton 1 United 1
FIRST HALF – FAST, FURIOUS, BUT FRUSTRATING
A ferocious noise from the returning home and away supporters inside St Mary’s was met by an equally energetic start to the match. It was Saints who had the first chance to cause pressure though, when a long-range James Ward-Prowse free-kick forced David De Gea to tip the ball round his right-hand post and behind for a corner. However, Ward-Prowse’s delivery from the resulting set-play was not as threatening and the ball only found the side-netting.
A few minutes later and United were left scratching our heads as to how the ball had stayed out of the net at the other end. Bruno Fernandes swung in a free-kick which an outstretched Victor Lindelof got a light touch to, looping the ball towards goal but only onto the bar. On the rebound Anthony Martial headed goalwards, but a number of red and white striped shirts had scrambled back onto the line and just about managed to get the ball clear.
Paul Pogba then had a couple of chances, both also from free-kicks, this time whipped in by Luke Shaw from the left wing. The first saw his shot turned behind for a corner before his second was headed just over the crossbar.
Pilling on the pressure, Martial played a crafty one-two with Fernandes on the edge of the area and was about to latch onto the looping return pass in behind the hosts’ defence, before a defender intervened just in time to dispel the danger.
The temperature was rising in St Mary’s, with Ralph Hasenhuttl’s team beginning to get some possession following a spell of dominance by the Reds, but they hadn’t created anything overly threatening until a sucker-punch own-goal following a strike by Adams. Having received the ball after Jack Stephens had robbed Fernandes in the United half, the Scott danced on the edge of the area in a bid to create an opening and saw his shot deflect off Fred’s boot and out of reach of De Gea into the bottom corner.
Five minutes before the interval Southampton might have doubled their lead had Adam Armstrong made contact with a low cross following a lung-busting Valentino Livarmento run down the left wing, but thankfully his efforts to fling himself at the ball were in vain.
The final chance of the first 45 fell to the Reds as Shaw’s corner was met by the head of Lindelof in the box, but keeper Alex McCarthy did well to smother his downward header and maintain his side’s advantage going into the break.