Manchester United’s winless Premier League streak was stretched to five on Wednesday, with José Mourinho’s side held to a goalless draw away at Southampton. It was a fair result after another impotent performance.
The only real excitement of a very poor first half came in the first five minutes, when Southampton were awarded a controversial penalty. Eric Bailly undoubtedly handballed a long Saints punt, but appeared to do so outside the box. Mike Dean pointed to the spot, though justice was done when Sergio Romero made a fine save on Manolo Gabbiadini’s well-struck spot-kick.
After a dodgy first few minutes, United steadily grew into the game, and Fraser Forster had to be on guard to deny Bailly with a powerful shot from the edge of the area. Five minutes later Wayne Rooney threaded Anthony Martial through on the counter-attack, though the Frenchman screwed his low shot wide of the far post.
Unfortunately, they proved the only openings in a barren first period, and the teams left the field with the game goalless.
It took just a few minutes of the second half for Southampton to call Romero into action once more, though the Argentine made a solid save to deny Dušan Tadić's powerful effort from the edge of the box. Oriol Romeu and James Ward-Prowse further tested Romero from long distance, though he proved more than equal to their respective attempts.
There was little more than 20 minutes left on the clock when United created their first real second half opening, though they couldn't take it. Rooney laid the ball off to Juan Mata inside the area, though the Spaniard’s effort cleared the crossbar. They went closer when Martial struck the post with a curling shot, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan squandered the rebound.
The upshot was that the game ended goalless, as United’s league season continued to peter out. From the first whistle the visitors seemed interested in doing little more than running the clock down, and with nothing at stake in the league, their lack of motivation is understandable if underwhelming.