Man Utd 0-0 Southampton: Lacklustre United down to third after draw
By Gerard Brand
Last Updated: 31/12/17 12:35pm
Manchester United are now without a win in four games in all competitions after being held to a 0-0 draw by Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday.
Romelu Lukaku missed a good headed chance for the hosts early on before being taken off for a worrying head injury, while Saints had openings of their own at the other end as David de Gea saved well from James Ward-Prowse.
De Gea turned over Shane Long's low drive after the break as Saints, having won just once in 12 Premier League games, threatened to stun the hosts.
Man Utd: De Gea (7), Young (6), Jones (7), Lindelof (5), Shaw (5), Matic (4), Pogba (7), Mkhitaryan (5), Mata (5), Lingard (5), Lukaku (5)
Subs: Rashford (5), Martial (5)
Southampton: McCarthy (6), Stephens (7), Hoedt (8), Yoshida (7), McQueen (7), Ward-Prowse (7), Romeu (6), Hojbjerg (6), Tadic (6), Long (6), Boufal (7)
Subs: Gabbiadini (NA), Lemina (NA), Redmond (NA)
Man of the match: Wesley Hoedt
United failed to create any clear chances late on, and the result means Jose Mourinho's side are down to third in the Premier League after Chelsea moved up to second, while Saints are in 13th, two points off the drop zone.
There was a worry early on for United as Lukaku was taken off on a stretcher early on after a nasty clash of heads with Wesley Hoedt, just moments after the Belgian had headed unmarked six yards from goal.
However, reports from the ground suggested that Lukaku was being treated at the ground rather than taken to hospital.
Ward-Prowse had forced a superb low save out of De Gea from 15 yards during a frantic opening, while Hoedt also glanced wide unmarked inside the box from a corner.
Jose Mourinho made three changes from the 2-2 draw with Burnley; Lindelof was in for Rojo, Lingard for Rashford and Mkhitaryan for Ibrahimovic, who didn't make the bench. It was Henrikh Mkhitaryan's first start since the defeat by Chelsea in early November. There were four changes for Saints; goalkeeper Forster was dropped for McCarthy, McQueen replaced Targett, Tadic came in back for Redmond and Ward-Prowse replaced Lemina.
Big chances fell to United in the first half; Juan Mata's low drive was saved by the feet of Alex McCarthy, sub Marcus Rashford couldn't get over the ball from point-blank range after Ashley Young's superb cross, and Jesse Lingard headed wide from Henrikh Mkhitaryan's delivery as the sides went in goalless.
There was also a big penalty appeal as the ball struck Yoshida's hand in the box, but referee Craig Pawson deemed it accidental as he waved play on.
United had most of the possession again, but rarely threatened in the second half, as De Gea had to be at his best once more to turn over Long's first-time effort with his feet.
The hosts had the ball in the net late on through Paul Pogba after Nemanja Matic's effort was turned home by the Frenchman from close range, but he was rightly flagged for offside by linesman Richard West. Replays show that if Pogba had left the ball, it may have hit the inside of the post and gone into the net.
Jeers rang around Old Trafford at full time, with Manchester City primed to open up a 17-point lead over their rivals if they win at Crystal Palace on New Year's Eve.
Man of the match - Wesley Hoedt
Although Saints' job was made a lot easier by Lukaku's unfortunate injury early on, their defence stood firm to get an unlikely draw and clean sheet at Old Trafford.
At the heart of that defence was Dutchman Hoedt, who made 10 clearances as United peppered the visitors' box, more than any player on the pitch.
Saints showed more belief in both attack and defence than you'd expect given recent form, and Hoedt was integral in earning a point in the hope of giving them momentum going into 2018.
Jose Mourinho: "[Pawson is] a very good referee, one of the most promising young referees not just in England, but in Europe too, had a very bad decision that punished us. Then, the game was about us trying, missing some important chances, and always trying to create, always trying to play. I think we deserved to win the match."
Mauricio Pellegrino: "For sure we are really pleased, not just for the point, we are happy because our performance was really good from the beginning to the end, especially in the way we approached the game. In the way we approached the game, good focus, attitude, personality. United were never comfortable on the pitch and were always uncomfortable on the pitch."
- United are now winless in four competitive matches (W0 D3 L1) - their worst run since May 2017, when the fourth game in that run was also against Southampton.
- This match ended a 20-game scoring run for United at Old Trafford in all competitions, since last failing to score there on April 1 v WBA (also 0-0).
- Southampton have lost just one of their last five trips to Old Trafford to face Manchester United (W2 D2 L1).
- This was the 16th time in Southampton's last 33 competitive games (since April 1st) that they have failed to score (48 per cent).
Man Utd go to Everton on New Year's Day at 5.30pm in the Premier League, before their FA Cup third-round clash with Derby at Old Trafford on Friday evening. Southampton host Crystal Palace on Tuesday evening, and then go to Fulham in the FA Cup on Saturday.