Manchester United and Southampton played out the most entertaining goalless draw you’re likely to see this season in Sunday’s Premier League fixture at Old Trafford. United were hampered by an early red card for Casemiro, yet both sides rattled the woodwork in a breathless—and somehow goalless—second half.
Erik ten Hag made only two changes to the side that saw off Real Betis in midweek, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka replacing Diogo Dalot at right-back, and Jadon Sancho preferred to Fred. That meant Bruno Fernandes dropped into the Christian Eriksen role, with Jadon Sancho given the freedom to buzz around between Marcus Rashford and Antony.
In spite of their perilous league position, Southampton made a bold start to the match. Rubén Sellés’s side squeezed United’s defence, pressing high and making it difficult for United to play out from the back. United’s only early luck came in the wide areas, where a smart one-two between Rashford and Fernandes opened up a shooting opportunity, though Rashford’s effort was saved from a tight angle.
Within seconds United had another chance, after the fleet-footed Carlos Alcaraz had his pocket picked in midfield. Sancho wasted no time in slipping a pass straight through the Southampton defence, though Rashford’s first touch was clumsy, and smothered by a grateful Gavin Bazunu.
Southampton were playing well, and their industrious defensive play denied United more chances. The Saints’ first real opportunity came midway through the first half, when Romain Perraud wedged a smart cross towards the back post for Theo Walcott, though his powerful header was well saved by David de Gea.
Things took a nasty turn past the half-hour, when another uncharacteristically sloppy Casemiro performance was brought to a swift end. He was initially booked for diving into a challenge with Alcaraz, though the referee was sent to the VAR screen to watch the Brazilian’s studs making contact with his opponent’s shin. It was a clear red card, and an apologetic Casemiro trudged off the pitch with a four-match ban. Scott McTominay was thrown on for Wout Weghorst as ten Hag shuffled his pack.
In spite of their numerical inferiority, the last chance of the first half was United’s. Fernandes swung a smart free-kick from wide-right towards the back post, where Bazunu got down well to deny Raphaël Varane on the half-volley.
Southampton started the second half in swashbuckling fashion, and only a goalline clearance from Wan-Bissaka prevented McTominay turning a Kyle Walker-Peters cross into his own goal. James Ward-Prowse was licking his chops after Fernandes hacked the impressive Roméo Lavia down on the edge of the United box, though his free-kick pranged the top of the crossbar.
Walcott should’ve given Southampton the lead after he was sent clean through on the counter, though his shot was tame under pressure from Lisandro Martínez, and paddled around the post by De Gea. United hit back with a low, curling effort from Fernandes, though his effort was tipped onto the post by the sprawling Bazunu.
Southampton again clattered the woodwork at the other end; the lively Walker-Peters with a shot that swerved away from De Gea and against the far post. Ten Hag made a double substitution, with Facundo Pellistri and Alejandro Garnacho introduced in place of Sancho and Antony.
The final few minutes were incredibly stretched as Southampton threw caution to the wind, but somehow the game ended goalless.