Edinson Cavani came off the bench to score a brace as Manchester United completed a 3-2 comeback win over Southampton in the Premier League.
Manchester United started off brightly against Southampton, with Mason Greenwood missing an open goal after rounding out Alex McCarthy. However, it was the home side that took the lead against the run of the play, thanks to Jan Bednarek getting his head on the end of a swerving James Ward-Prowse corner.
United came close to equalizing soon after, with Mason Greenwood capitalising on a McCarthy error before hitting it straight at him. McCarthy made a triple save in that play to ensure Southampton retain the lead. Fred gave away a cheap free-kick at the edge of the box and that could only mean one thing.
James Ward-Prowse made sure United were punished for it and his goal saw the away side fall to a 2-0 deficit, despite being the better team thus far. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made two substitutions at half-time, owing to David de Gea’s injury and a need for response in attack.
Edinson Cavani almost had an immediate impact, if only Marcus Rashford squared the ball to him instead of going for the goal. The goal soon came, with Bruno Fernandes getting on the end of a Cavani cross and swiftly turning to score.
After that, it was mostly United and the equaliser was a brilliant presence of mind from the Uruguayan as Bruno fired one in from outside the box after the corner, with Cavani heading it in like a real poacher. United pushed for the win and got it in stoppage time, thanks to Cavani’s poacher skills once again, getting on the end of a brilliant searching Marcus Rashford ball.
The comeback was sealed, along with all three points. Let us now take a look at the individuals.
David de Gea – 5
Was at fault to an extent for the Ward-Prowse goal as Michael Owen pointed out during the half-time analysis. Should have organised the wall better. Needs to be more vocal during defensive set-pieces. Came off with an injury and Solskjaer would hope it’s nothing serious.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka – 5
Recovered well in the second half in both facets of his game, but was a damper in the first. Was continuously troubled by Moussa Djenepo and Ryan Bertrand, with most of the Southampton attacks originating from the right. Had an off game by his defensive standards.
Victor Lindelof – 5
The Iceman needs a break by the looks of it. Lindelof looks not just out of form, but lacking fitness to an extent, perhaps due to the injury he has been carrying for months. Solskjaer needs to handle the Swede’s fitness with care, especially with Axel Tuanzebe a credible option right now.
Harry Maguire – 6
The better of the centre-backs, Maguire was vocal despite Manchester United going 2-0 down and showed leadership on the field by not letting heads drop. Got forward with his runs and got on the end of aerial balls with dominance. Seemed more in control at the back compared to Lindelof.
Alex Telles – 6
Had an average game, like the rest of the defence. But, Telles was continuously trying to make things happen in attack while stifling players for room on the left. One thing the Brazilian needs to improve on is to close down the players on the left with more urgency and not allow free early crosses.
Fred – 6
Had a very good game like always. However, he was at fault for Southampton’s second goal, giving away a cheap free kick. Played well and put in a real shift, with 4 tackles to his name. Had the most number of successful passes (70) in game and was a real cog in the midfield for Manchester United.
Nemanja Matic – 7
Nemanja Matic’s game by numbers vs. Southampton:
86% pass accuracy
41 forward passes
15 ball recoveries
Quality. 💪 pic.twitter.com/40OVrMYrMc
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) November 29, 2020
Despite conceding 2 goals, Matic was on top of his game. Had 5 interceptions during the game and recovered second balls with ease. Manchester United dominated the midfield and Matic ensured there was as little chance of a successful Southampton counter.
Donny van de Beek – 6.5
Donny van de Beek’s first Premier League start:
100% dribble success
82% pass accuracy
10 ball recoveries
4 tackles won
2 fouls won
Good to see him in the XI. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/kOgdBVJfwE
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) November 29, 2020
The Netherlands international has shown this week in the two games played that he can be equally adept playing as a number 6 and a number 8. The silent hero on the day, van de Beek never let his head drop despite the two-goal deficit; kept the game ticking and was influential in United dominating the attack.
Bruno Fernandes – 8
⚽️ No player has scored more Premier League goals than Bruno Fernandes since he made his Man Utd debut (15)
🅰️ No player has provided more Premier League assists than Bruno Fernandes since he made his Man Utd debut (11)
World. Class. pic.twitter.com/1WfHqK1N4f
— William Hill (@WilliamHill) November 29, 2020
Should have ideally scored after pouncing on the rebound from Mason Greenwood’s shot but shot it tamely at McCarthy, who was on point. The second, half though, was a different story as Bruno started the comeback with a sweet finish inside the box, before nabbing an assist that had more to do with Cavani’s movement and urgency than the Portuguese’s creativity.
But, all in all, Fernandes finished another game with a goal and an assist and added another feather to his cap by scoring in 5 consecutive away games for Manchester United, something only a handful of stars have been able to do.
Mason Greenwood – 3
Was hardly in the game and did nothing of significance. Yet, two of the best chances landed on his feet, thanks in large to confusion within the Southampton backline. However, Greenwood looks short of confidence and that was visible on the day as he missed an open goal and shot the second one straight at the keeper.
The media frenzy seems to have affected him in an adverse manner. Down to Solskjaer and the camp to now manage his ‘recovery’ properly.
Marcus Rashford – 6
Selfish, that is what Rashford looked at times. Should have squared the ball to Edinson Cavani, who had an open net gaping in front of him. Instead, he took the shot. Looked to try and do too much by himself at times and fell flat.
Yet, his journey from a forward to an attacking playmaker of sorts seemed to continue, as he made the most number of key passes (3) in the game and provided the assist for the winner. Could have gotten another assist, had Bruno not skied his shot from inside the box during a stoppage time counter.
Rashford just needs to work on his decision making at crucial times and he will be right up there with the best.
Dean Henderson – 7
Did a good job, making more saves within the first 10 minutes of coming on than David de Gea did in the entire first-half. Commanded his area well and was vocal inside the box, showing that maybe Solskjaer can afford to give Henderson a run at being the first-choice keeper for Manchester United.
His fast one-hand distribution was also impeccable at times, finding his players with ease and room to run into.
Edinson Cavani – 9
El Matador would have had a hat-trick, had Rashford squared the ball to him. Cavani returned the favour by not leaving it for the English international inside the box and instead, trying a turning shot that flew over the bar. These are things that can happen every now and then, when you have natural forwards with predatory instincts.
Yet, the Uruguayan is easily the best in terms of movement and finishing ability currently at Manchester United and that showed.
Created the chances with his movement and made sure he converted it too. Sunday was a masterclass in terms of how to move and finish like a natural forward and it is something Ole will have on the back of his mind while selecting the squads for future games. Another ‘ageing like a fine wine’ moment at St. Mary’s for a Manchester United player.
Brandon Williams – N/A
Was brought on to inject a fresh pair of legs on the left and it worked. Williams showed intent going forward and the tired Southampton defence just couldn’t keep up. Can go out on loan in January for some valuable experience but Williams looks ready for regular Premier League football.