Thursday, 18 May 2017

Match report: Southampton 0-0 United

United and Saints played out a meaningless and uneventful goalless draw on the south coast in the Reds last league away match of the season.

Neither side had anything to play for, with Claude Puel's Southampton comfortably in mid table and United's top four hopes long since over with the Stockholm final looming large. 

Sergio Romero showcased his qualities with a string of superb saves to preserve a hard-earned clean sheet, including a fine early stop from Manolo Gabbiadini's penalty.

Anthony Martial struck a post in the second half for the rotated and much-changed Reds, with the team backed magnificently throughout by 5,000 travelling United fans. 

The game's main talking point came inside five minutes when Eric Bailly handled a Dusan Tadic cross.
The infringement looked to have occurred outside the box, but referee Mike Dean pointed to the spot. 

After recent penalty failures by Tadic and Shane Long, Gabbiadini added his name to that list as Romero saved superbly low down to repel the Italian's spot-kick.

Bailly was then involved at the other end as he seized on a loose ball from Matt Targett and burst forward, but Fraser Forster tipped the effort wide.

Martial flashed a shot wide and Henrikh Mkhitaryan also went close from distance before Axel Tuanzebe - on his third successive league start - was thwarted by a lunging block from Maya Yoshida.

James Ward - Prowse fired narrowly off target from a free-kick and Nathan Redmond tested Romero with a 20-yarder at the end of an evenly contested first half.

Saints began strongly after the restart with the Reds indebted to Romero who continued to preserve parity almost single handedly.

The stand-in stopper beat away a well-struck effort from Tadic, tipped behind Oriol Romeu's close-range snap shot, and then acrobatically clawed away Ward - Prowse's dipping drive in a prolonged spell of pressure from the hosts.

United went close on the counter-attack through Rooney and then Juan Mata, before Martial came within inches of the opener with 20 minutes to play.

Having collected the ball from substitute Michael Carrick, the Frenchman burst forward and unleashed a superb strike which cannoned back off the inside of the post.
Mkhitaryan should have done better with the rebound, but blazed the ball over the bar from close range with only Forster to beat.

Saints subs Sofiane Boufal and Jay Rodriguez both rifled off target late on, but there was to be no breakthrough as the match petered out into a disappointing stalemate. 

Overall team performance: 6/10
United Faithful Man of the Match: Sergio Romero. Showed why he fully deserves his start in the final with a series of superb saves.

Special mention to the fantastic vocal backing of the away support, who never stopped singing despite the wet weather for a midweek game with nothing to play for. 





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