Manchester United equaled the Premier League record for biggest ever victory with (not a typo) a 9-0 victory over Southampton at Old Trafford. United drew level with league leaders Manchester City for at least a day with the win, and made a considerable dent in the Blues’ goal difference lead as well. Seven (7!) different goalscorers were on the scoresheet for the homeside — Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Marcus Rashford, Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial, Scott McTominay, Bruno Fernandes, and Dan James. United also benefited from an own goal from Jan Bednarek, who was one of two Southampton players to be sent off.
Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl was forced into fielding a weakened — and inexperienced — side due to injuries. That lack of experience came to bear after just 79 seconds of the match in the worst way for the visitors. Alexandre Jankewitz was making his first start in the Premier League, and it may have been nervous energy that led to his wild high lunge on Scott McTominay in the second minute of the match. Referee Mike Dean showed a straight red card that was quickly confirmed by VAR, and the Saints now had to play essentially an entire match a man down.
As could have been expected, United then proceeded to totally dominate the opening exchanges. After a series of half chances, they turned that domination into a lead. Luke Shaw — who has been increasingly important to United’s attack in recent weeks — swung a cross into the “danger zone” between the goalkeeper and Southampton defenders, and Aaron Wan-Bissaka arrived at the far post to poke the ball home.
The home side weren’t in the mood for mercy either. Seven minutes later, they would double their lead. A driving run from Shaw got the ball into the box, where Mason Greenwood patiently held his run. Greenwood got played in from Shaw and then delivered a pull back to a waiting Marcus Rashford who finished coolly and accurately past the ‘keeper.
Southampton briefly threatened to get themselves back into it. A dangerous free kick was whipped ferociously at goal by James Ward-Prowse, but David De Gea was equal to it. Minutes later, United widened their advantage.
A deflected pass found its way to Rashford, now occupying the right side of the attack, and his driven cross was turned into the net by Jan Bednarek, who had both Fred and Greenwood waiting behind him. With still 10 minutes to go before half-time, the Saints were 3-0 and totally shell-shocked.
Unfortunately for them, it got worse before the break. Edinson Cavani had already passed up two decent chances by the time Luke Shaw’s looping cross found him in the box, but his confidence didn’t appear to be shaken. The Uruguayan cleverly got in between Southampton’s center-backs and directed his header into the corner.
At 4-0, the Saints would have been desperate for halftime. When Cavani was brought down around the edge of the box and Mike Dean pointed to the spot, it looked like United were about to get a fifth. A subsequent VAR check changed the decision — incorrectly, it appeared — to a free kick just outside the area however, and the wall kept out Bruno Fernandes’ effort.
With the result secured, Shaw and Cavani were given the second half off, with Donny van de Beek and Anthony Martial coming on in their places. The result was a change of shape to a 4-3-3, and Fred dropped in at left-back. United started the second half as they finished the first, fully in control. In a two minute spell though, both Harry Maguire and van de Beek managed to pick up bookings for late challenges, and then Che Adams had the ball in the back of the net. Today was just not Southampton’s day though, and VAR called that goal back for a marginal offside.
At the hour mark, Solskjaer added insult to injury for Southampton, sending on forgotten man Daniel “Dan” James in place of Rashford.
Martial has looked like a man short on confidence in recent weeks, and a reeling Southampton may have been the perfect boost to get him going again. At the 70th minute, Bruno’s ball over the top was brought down beautifully by the Frenchman, and Martial turned and fired into the roof of the net to make it 5-0.
That scoreline would barely last 90 seconds. Scott McTominay’s probing ball caused chaos in the Southampton box, and the eventual clearance came back out to the Scot. McTominay fired low and hard first time through a crowd of legs, and it was 6-0.
Alex McCarthy had barely caught his breath before it was almost 7. The Southampton keeper came rushing out to deny Fred’s ball to Martial, but couldn’t get there in time. Luckily for him, Martial’s chip bounced just inches wide of the post.
It wouldn’t be a great day at the office without a Bruno Fernandes penalty, and we got one in the 87th minute in dramatic circumstances. Bednarek — already the scorer of an own-goal — brought down Martial in the box. After a lengthy VAR check, not only was the penalty decision confirmed, but Bednarek was shown a straight red card. Bruno made no mistake from the spot.
You would think that, surely, with only a few minutes left, Southampton would be left to lick their wounds. You would be wrong. A cross from Wan-Bissaka was missed by the Saints defenders, and Martial brought it down on his chest, and finished with aplomb. We would forgive you at this point for having lost count; it was now 8-0.
Eight is a nice round number, but United, a team full of numerologists apparently, decided they needed one more. A ball into the box in injury time was cushioned down by Bruno Fernandes with a controlled header, and James was on hand to score United’s ninth.
United were in the mood to get into double figures, but the final whistle spared Southampton further punishment.