Manchester United preserved their unbeaten Premier League away record with a 1-1 draw at Southampton on Sunday. The Reds fell behind courtesy of a Fred own goal midway through the first half, before Mason Greenwood netted his second of the season to restore parity early in the second.
The game was played with palpable intensity, but, at least for the first 45 minutes, neither side created much from open play. Set pieces, on the other hand, proved problematic at both ends, and James Ward-Prowse had David de Gea scrambling to tip away a free-kick curled towards the bottom corner in the very first minute.
United responded quickly, with both Bruno Fernandes and Luke Shaw posing problems with free-kicks whipped into the box from wide areas. The former delivered a lethal ball across the face of goal, which narrowly evaded Victor Lindelöf before being flicked onto the crossbar by a tumbling Harry Maguire. The rebound fell for Anthony Martial, though his header was scrambled off the line by Mohammed Salisu. The Ghanaian defender was the Saints’ saviour again minutes later, when he blocked a powerful Paul Pogba effort on Shaw’s delivery.
Despite their reliance on free-kicks, United remained on top for much of the first half. Southampton’s opener, scored on the half-hour, was both against the run of play and the result of some good fortune. Fernandes was dispossessed out on United’s left by Saints centre-half Jack Stephens, who fired a low pass into Adam Armstrong, teeing up strike partner Che Adams. His effort from the edge of the area took a huge deflection off Fred’s boot, sufficient to go down as an own goal after it nestled in the bottom corner.
From there, United struggled to regain their control, and relied on a Shaw corner for their only remaining chance of the first half. Nemanja Matić leapt to win a free header in the middle of the box, but his effort lacked power, and was comfortably smothered by Southampton keeper Alex McCarthy.
The visitors made a promising start to the second half, with a powerful Pogba volley quickly drawing yet another goal-saving block from Salisu. The subsequent corner caused chaos, bouncing around the Southampton box before being punted to safety.
However, less than 10 minutes after the restart, United drew level. Pogba and Fernandes combined in a tight one-two before the Frenchman laid off to Greenwood on the edge of the Saints box. The young striker didn’t make the cleanest contact, but fired beneath Salisu and goalkeeper McCarthy for 1-1.
Solskjær quickly looked to turn the screw, introducing Jadon Sancho for a quiet Martial. Pogba soon went close again, giving a couple of Southampton defenders the slip before firing across McCarthy and just wide of the far post. Aaron Wan-Bissaka picked out Fernandes lurking deep in the Saints box, though his powerful header was palmed away.
Southampton’s biggest chance to retake the lead fell to Armstrong inside the final 20 minutes, when Harry Maguire was caught napping deep in his own half. Ward-Prowse nicked the ball, and slid it in behind Lindelöf to leave Armstrong one-on-one with de Gea. Fortunately, the Spaniard made a trademark reflex save, parrying a powerful first-time effort from point-blank range.
Despite Solskjær’s late bid for a winner with the introduction of Jesse Lingard, Armstrong’s proved the last clear-cut chance of a fractious finale, and the game ended all-square. It was an entertaining, if slightly frustrating encounter, and neither side could have too many complaints about the result.