Man United back on track in style as they put nine past Southampton
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side ruthlessly dispatch nine-man Saints at Old Trafford
Manchester United celebrate after Anthony Martial scored their fifth against Southampton. Photograph: Phil Noble/PA
Manchester United 9 Southampton 0
This was a message written in rampant style that Manchester United intend to remain as serious title contenders. Sure, Southampton were injury-depleted and had only 10 men inside two minutes but Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s men showed a killer edge that shows they mean business in the joint-highest Premier League win. United ended with nine in a breathless finish that added three goals.
First, Jan Bednarek was shown Southampton’s second red card by Mike Dean who awarded a penalty for a foul on Anthony Martial. After VAR ordered the referee to the pitch-side monitor he maintained his original decision plus added the sending off. Up stepped Bruno Fernades to score from the spot, before Martial added an eighth and Dan James the final finish.
Solskjær’s sole adjustment from the draw at Arsenal was to stand Paul Pogba down to the bench - for a “rest” as Mason Greenwood came in. Southampton’s changes ran to four: Moussa Djenepo, Che Adams, Kayne Ramsay and Alexandre Jankewitz replaced Theo Walcott, Oriol Romeu, Ibrahima Diallo and Nathan Redmond. If the first three were all injury-enforced, Ralph Hasenhüttl hoped his team would bounce back from Saturday’s home loss to Aston Villa, having also lost their previous game at home to Arsenal.
Yet what unfolded was a horror-show of an opening half. After only 79 seconds Jankewitz scythed Scott McTominay down and the referee, Dean, sent the 19-year-old off, this a nightmare full debut, Jankewitz having played only a minute for the club before. McTominay, though, could resume and count himself lucky following what might have been a season-ending challenge.
As would be expected United dominated from here. Danny Ings dropped back from attack to take up the vacant left-hand berth and Solskjær’s men proceeded to ruthlessly solve a puzzle they can find hard; the breaking down of banked resistance. They went close when McTominay fired in a cross that Fred nearly headed in and Greenwood had a chance blocked: each of these openings coming in the area.
For Southampton, their only hope appeared via a breakaway or set-piece – each of which United are vulnerable to. Yet, now, they were breached. This was sweetly simple. The rejuvenated Luke Shaw swung in the ball and there was Aaron Wan-Bissaka appearing from the right to fire home only a second senior goal.
As fluid was when McTominay rolled a pass to Edinson Cavani and his cute back-heel found Fernandes. The visitors scrambled clear but the question was for how long? United were a blur of red, swamping Southampton in all areas. Shaw chipped in for Wan-Bissaka, this time he overhit, but United continued to hog possession.
The effervescent Shaw showed once more and this time it was clinical; the left-back tapped to Greenwood who found Marcus Rashford whose first-time finish beat Alex McCarthy to his left. This had Hasenhüttl throwing his hands in despair and while there was some respite when James Ward-Prowse’s free-kick warmed David de Gea’s hands this was brief.
First, a Fernandes shot forced a corner taken by the latter and, when play broke, the playmaker’s cross nearly had the scrambling Jack Stephens heading past McCarthy. Now, though, a dreaded own-goal did arrive; Ward-Prowse inadvertently tapped to Rashford and his fierce cross was turned home by Bednarek.
A triumphant half for United closed with Shaw once more creating – this time via a pinpoint cross that Cavani headed home with aplomb. And, there was nearly a fifth when Ramsay brought down Cavani and Dean awarded a penalty before VAR ruled the challenge was marginally outside the area.
For the second half Cavani and Shaw were replaced by Martial and Donny van de Beek. Here Fred took Shaw’s position, Van de Beek the latter’s, and Martial the No 9’s. The Frenchman had only two league strikes so here was an opportunity to try and profit from United’s relentlessness. Southampton, really, were hoping to avoid a humiliating hiding that might approach the territory of last season’s 9-0 reverse to Leicester, in which they also had a player sent off.
They knew this was not their night when Adams beat De Gea only for VAR to rule the striker offside – possibly by the much-derided armpit. United did not care: this remained a keep-ball exercise and with Everton here on Saturday Solskjaer could protect Rashford, replacing him with Dan James on the hour. And Martial did register with a sweet chest-down-and-volley high into the roof of the net in a much-needed confidence boost for him, before McTominay’s 20-yard zinger made it 6-0. - Guardian