Manchester United vs Southampton result: Red Devils equal record in thrashing of Saints

Manchester United 9-0 Southampton: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Marcus Rashford, Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial, Scott McTominay, Bruno Fernandes and Daniel James all scored in the rout

Mark Critchley
Old Trafford
Tuesday 02 February 2021 22:36 GMT
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Aaron Wan-Bissaka celebrates with his United teammates
Aaron Wan-Bissaka celebrates with his United teammates (Reuters)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

If Manchester United needed to regain momentum and breathe new life into their faltering title challenge, then a nine-goal victory over nine-man opposition – equalling the Premier League record scoreline that they set 26 years ago – should have done the trick.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side moved level on points with Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table again by eviscerating a sorry Southampton side that were depleted in more ways than one.

Ralph Hasnehuttl’s side were already nursing themselves through an injury crisis before Alexandre Jankewitz’s second-minute dismissal, with nine first-team squad members out of contention.

The 19-year-old Jankewitz was one of two players in the starting line-up making their first top-flight start along with Kayne Ramsey, while Southampton's substitute’s bench was populated by untested teenagers and two goalkeepers.

It was always going to be a difficult night but it didn’t have to be a rerun of their most difficult night under Hasenhuttl’s management – that 9-0 home defeat to Leicester City in October 2019.

This was even worse in a way, with Jan Bednarek joining Jankewitz for an early bath. Having been here before, there will be more confidence at St Mary’s that they can bounce back again but United showed no mercy, reopening the old wounds which Southampton have worked so hard to heal.

At least the first 79 seconds went well. Hasenhuttl’s players were engaged in their usual high, intense press, harrying United on the halfway line, but the only pressing Jankewitcz was doing was with studs, raking them down the side of McTominay’s inner right thigh.

Among the howls of shock and anguish that followed, the card produced by referee Mike Dean was predictably the same colour as the several, long grazes on the United midfielder’s leg: red.

Jankewitz trudged away down the touchline with his head bowed while Hasenhuttl held his in his hands. It would be easy to feel sorry for the youngster if the challenge itself had not been incredibly dangerous. McTominay was fortunate that he did not come away with a much more serious injury.

Read more: Player ratings from Manchester United’s 9-0 win

It took a while for United to adjust to the new dynamic. There was even a bit of impatience in the early play, as if Solskjaer’s players were conscious of the fact that they were now expected to not only win but win comfortably.

That tension immediately eased once Wan-Bissaka poked the breakthrough home, arriving late at the far post to knock Luke Shaw’s deep cross across the face of goal, against the upright and in for his second career goal.

Shaw had a storming first half, in-keeping with his recent form, before being sacrificed at half time. A shimmy down the left and lay-off to Mason Greenwood created the second, with the teenager’s low cross being turned in by Rashford for his 83rd United’s goal - moving head of Eric Cantona in the all-time ranks.

It was Rashford’s cross which Jan Bednarek diverted into his own net for the third, while Shaw picked up his second assist of the evening shortly before half time. Another peach of a cross was dropped onto the head of Edinson Cavani for his first Old Trafford goal.

It was a surprise, perhaps, that Solskjaer elected to replace Shaw and Cavani at the break rather than either Rashford or Bruno Fernandes, given the intensity of the schedule, but nobody could argue with the decision to introduce Donny van de Beek and Anthony Martial: two players searching for form.

Those changes saw Fred take up an unorthodox role at left-back, only for him to lose Che Adams on a free-kick at the start of the second half and let the Southampton striker score a potential consolation. De Gea was incensed to lose his clean sheet, swearing in Spanish and slapping his post, but VAR intervened and judged that Adams’s armpit had been offside.

Nothing was going Southampton’s way. In fact, things would only get worse.

Martial got his much-needed goal – the third of an underwhelming individual league campaign – when using his strength to hold off Bednarek, collect Fernandes’ floated ball over the top and finishing spectacularly, high and over poor Alex McCarthy.

Even McTominay got in on the act, long after recovering from Jankewitz’s challenge. McCarthy and Jack Stephens believed they had cleared the danger created by Greenwood’s burst into the penalty area and shot on target, only for McTominay to send the ball back the same way, low and hard from the edge of the box and into the bottom right-hand corner.

Now, it became difficult to keep count. With an own goal already to his name, Bednarek brought Martial down for a late penalty. After a lengthy VAR check, the spot-kick was confirmed and the Southampton defender was sent off, having not made an attempt to play the ball.

Fernandes converted, leaving United with three minutes plus three more in stoppage time to match or beat the record – set by Sir Alex Ferguson’s side against Ipswich Town in 1995, the matched by Leicester at St Mary’s 15 months ago.

Martial grabbed his second in the 90th minute but it was Daniel James’s strike that was greeted with the greatest cheer by the United bench, knowing that they had made a piece of history. Southampton, once again, were the ones on the wrong end.

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