Manchester United continued their unbeaten league run under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as they came from a goal down to beat Southampton 3-2 on Saturday.
The hosts started off on a strong note, with Angus Gunn forced into making three saves withing the first five minutes, denying Romelu Lukaku (twice) and Andreas Pereira. The visitors then settled into their shape, with United finding it difficult to carve out opportunities consistently, before stunning the Old Trafford into dead silence in the 26th minute.
Yan Valery, collecting a pass from Charlie Austin, unleashed a ferociously driven shot that slammed into the top right corner. Manchester United subsequently created a flurry of chances, but failed to pull a goal back before half-time as Southampton held the slender advantage.
Post the break, however, it was all United, and it was the introduction of Diogo Dalot that shifted the momentum completely. The young Portuguese started off with providing dangerous deliveries into the box before laying off the assist for Andreas Pereira, who produced a beautiful long-range goal of his own.
Six minutes later, the hosts went on to grab the lead, with Pereira providing the assist this time. Romelu Lukaku produced the goods with his right foot, neatly slotting the ball into the bottom right corner. But, Southampton brought the game to level terms once again, as James Ward-Prowse curled a free-kick that David de Gea had no answer for.
But, just when it looked like both sides were going to share the spoils, Lukaku let loose a right-footed curler that even the inspired Gunn could not stop. There was time for some late drama though, as Paul Pogba stepped up to take an injury time penalty after Marcus Rashford had been fouled by Sam Gallagher.
But, the Frenchman was denied by Gunn, although Manchester United held on for the 3-2 win. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men following their comeback win.
David de Gea: 6/10
A tough game for de Gea, who did not have much to do on Saturday but conceded from two of the three shots on target by Southampton. In all fairness, however, both Yan Valery’s effort and James Ward-Prowse’s free-kick were timed well and the Spaniard had very little chance stopping both the efforts.
Ashley Young: 5/10
An outing to forget for the Manchester United skipper, who endured a trial by fire against Ryan Bertrand. His poor throw-in eventually led to Valery’s goal and he also conceded the free-kick for Southampton’s second. Distribution from corners left a lot to he desired. Needs to improve his positioning as well.
Chris Smalling: 6/10
A hit and miss performance. Smalling had his hands full with the threat of Nathan Redmond and was unsettled by the pace of the Southampton counters at several junctures of the game, particularly in the first half, when the visitors had taken the game to United more keenly. But, there were brief moments when the Englishman absorbed the pressure well too.
Victor Lindelof: 7/10
Unlike his partner at the heart of the defence, Lindelof was much more composed, negating Charlie Austin to such an extent that the Southampton striker was never involved in and around the Manchester United box. The Swede also completed more passes than anyone on the pitch (67) and won all seven aerial duels he was involved in.
Luke Shaw: 7/10
Accomplished once again, defending against the threat of Valery diligently, and even though there was some criticism over his failure to close the Frenchman down for the first goal, the effort really came out of nowhere. Looked a threat while advancing forward, although he could not be involved a great deal.
Andreas Pereira: 9/10
Handed his first start in over a month, Pereira started off in nervy fashion, losing possession a few times. But, after he settled into his rhythm, he was the best Manchester United player on show for the duration of his stay on the pitch.
Produced a sumptuous long range curler that brought United on even terms before providing the assist for Lukaku’s first goal. Quite easily the best effort from Pereira in his short career with the Red Devils, and a similar outing might just give his side the slightest of chances against PSG.
Scott McTominay: 7/10
With Nemanja Matic still injured, McTominay continued filling in the holding midfield role once again on Saturday. Solid in his duties off the ball, he got the better of James Ward-Prowse in the duo’s personal battle. Neat and tidy in possession, although he could be better served with improving his range.
Paul Pogba: 5/10
The team’s talisman did not have the best of outings as a pattern similar to recent games ensued. The visitors designated multiple players at times against Pogba to mark him out, with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg doing well against the Frenchman.
To add to his frustrations, he missed a late penalty before earning an unnecessary booking. But, the fact that Manchester United won without needing him at all bodes well for Solskjaer and them.
Marcus Rashford: 6/10
Back into the starting lineup after shaking off his minor ankle problem, Rashford looked a bit off pace and had a couple of horrible misses to forget about. A rare blip for the young striker, although even on an off day he managed to win a penalty because of some smart work.
Romelu Lukaku: 8.5/10
Romelu Lukaku this season:
🧭 Only started 58% of PL games
😱 Overtook Didier Drogba in all-time PL top scorers list
📈 Scored double digits in the league for the 7th consecutive season
🔥 Averaged 0.6 goals per 90
🔴Man Utd’s top scorer in the league
Respect. 👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/iLUVtRXeN7
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) March 2, 2019
After a first half to forget, when he had missed a couple of chances in horrible fashion, Lukaku brought himself back to life with a stunning effort in the final 45 minutes. Looking purposeful whenever he forayed forward, he gave Manchester United the lead with a neat finish from his weaker foot, making it all the more impressive.
But, his second goal, which ended up being the winner, was one that Lukaku will cherish for a long time, unleashing a right footed pile driver, which was also his first goal from outside the box for United. Four goals in two games that have won his side six points – goals that have taken him to 19th in the all-time Premier League top scorers list. Also the top scorer for the Red Devils in the league this term..
Alexis Sanchez: 4/10
From the very good to very bad. Sanchez is evidently the only player who has not benefitted from the change in guard at the helm at Old Trafford. Anonymous for large parts of the game, his age old problem of being wasteful in possession turned out to be frustrating for the hosts as well. Went off injured with a knee injury, and his replacement shifted the tide in the game.
Diogo Dalot: 7/10
Diogo Dalot’s game by numbers vs. Southampton:
100% take-ons completed
2 key passes
1 big chance created
Changed the game. 👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/rnoDUxveVN
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) March 2, 2019
Speaking of Sanchez’s replacement, it was Diogo Dalot’s introduction that turned it around for Manchester United. Just moments after coming on, the Portuguese produced a beautiful cross that ought to have been converted. He did get his deserved assist with Pereira’s goal and continued posing a threat with his driving runs. A promising talent.
On for Pereira, Fred had just eight minutes to impress and he did so by assisting Lukaku for his second goal. Primed to start against PSG.
Tahith Chong: N/A
An injury time introduction, Chong got a first taste of Premier League football with a couple of minutes on the pitch.