Goals were in plenty for Old Trafford to witness, and it all came down to late drama for the Red Devils to secure the three points.
The Saints opened the scoring in the first-half, with Yan Valery slotting in an incredible ball past David De Gea. United weren’t able to respond to that until the 54th minute, wherein Andreas Pereira found the top-right hand corner of the net from outside the box to equalize.
Minutes later Romelu Lukaku confounded the Southampton defense to put United in front. However, the Saints didn’t remain quiet for long, and a stunning James Ward-Prowse free-kick equalized the encounter yet again. However, it all came down to Romelu Lukaku capitalizing in the 89th minute to give United the win.
In a lone sore point during the game, Paul Pogba missed the chance to make it 4-2 when Angus Gunn deflected his injury-time penalty.
1. The Belgian Lion Is Back
With tonight’s brace, Romelu Lukaku has now netted four goals in two games. The passion with which he has been playing off late has been incredible and his joy was evident in the celebration of the winner. He is once again the top scorer for the Red Devils in the league with 12 goals to his name.
Much criticism was piled onto him and he is responding in all the right ways. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may have discovered a trove of success in deploying the Belgian as a winger, akin to how he functioned during the World Cup.
In fact, such a performance ought to merit an assured starting spot for Lukaku in the second-leg against PSG in France.
2. Academy Graduates Ruling the Midfield
Scott McTominay and Andreas Pereira are both products of United’s youth academy, and put in an impressive showing in the side’s midfield in the absence of the injury-stricken Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic.
Their performance has been another major positive. Pereira arguably had his finest game in a United shirt, first through the screamer and then by providing the assist to Lukaku’s first goal.
All in all, the future seems bright for United, and perhaps the club need not spend mind-boggling amounts on midfield maestros.
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3. Dalot – the Midas Touch
Deploying Diogo Dalot down the wing has proven to be Solskjaer’s latest tactical masterclass. Against Crystal Palace, the young Portuguese international created the most chances on the pitch, while today, his assist was immensely valuable for the Red Devils.
The impact he made was instantaneous, with his opening touch, providing a cross to Marcus Rashford, ought to have ended in a goal had the Englishman headed it in well. Regardless, his crossing may be a valuable tool for the club, particularly in view of the fact that Antonio Valencia will leave the outfit come summer.
Moreover, it is easy to forget that Dalot is mere days away from turning 20, and could have years more of football to play at Old Trafford.
4. Pogba Penalty
Paul Pogba’s penalty miss was a real sore point in a game that was a classic United fixture. In particular, the fact that Romelu Lukaku could have completed his hat-trick had he taken the penalty, potentially the club’s first since Zlatan Ibrahimovic, stings all the more.
This is also the third penalty that the Frenchman has missed in the league, and perhaps it is high time that he considers changing up his style. Else, United may have to take a radical decision and choose another penalty-taker altogether.
Further, Pogba’s showing in general throughout the game was a tad bit worrying, the midfield maestro not being his usual self. In fact, the former Juventus star had just one shot to his name the entire game.
5. Comeback Kings
It’s been a while since supporters of Manchester United relished the feeling that going down wouldn’t matter, as the comeback kings would shine again.
After their late heroics against Newcastle, Bournemouth, Juventus, and now against Southampton, they have firmly reinstated themselves for that particular title. All these games display a staunch fighting presence from the Red Devils, and an eagerness to not go down, akin to how SAF wished it to be at the side.
Now, can Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and company engineer the most important comeback of their season yet and produce a miracle against PSG?