Bruno Fernandes delivered the decisive blow for Manchester United in a 1-0 victory over Southampton at St. Mary’s Stadium, bringing an end to his side’s seven-game losing run in away matches.
United had the first sighting at goal as they targeted Southampton’s left-hand side. Diogo Dalot prevailed in a 50/50 challenge against Moussa Djenepo to work a promising crossing position, but the Portuguese’s delivery lacked the required quality to find Fernandes.
Erik ten Hag’s men ought to have opened the scoring in the 18th minute as Southampton redefined the meaning of heroic defending. Firstly, Kyle Walker-Peters was alert to prevent Fernandes from heading home from point-blank range, before Gavin Bazunu denied Anthony Elanga’s follow-up effort at his near post.
Fernandes then had a second bite of the cherry with an acrobatic effort which Walker-Peters was again equal to, before the ball fell invitingly for Christian Eriksen to lash towards goal. However, Armel Bella-Kotchap upstaged his teammates by diving heroically to block the Dane’s volley in front of goal.
Southampton slowly gained a foothold in the game, with Che Adams firing straight at David de Gea after getting away from Lisandro Martinez inside the penalty area.
The Scotland international had a more inviting opportunity minutes later. Mohamed Elyounoussi reversed a gorgeous pass through the United defence, although Adams failed to generate the sufficient purchase on his finish from a tight angle.
Scott McTominay fashioned an effort at the Southampton goal following the restart, although his strike was directed straight at Bazunu after being played in by Elanga.
United didn’t have to wait long to find the opener, however, as an excellent move down the right released Dalot into a crossing opportunity. The Portuguese pulled the ball across to his countryman Fernandes, ghosting into the penalty area unmarked, before the midfielder cushioned an expert volley into the bottom corner.
Southampton could have levelled in the 65th minute as De Gea was forced into action. Adam Armstrong dug out a cross from the byline where Joe Aribo drew a fine save from the United No.1 with a powerful header, before Walker-Peters nodded over on the rebound.
The home side continued to pour forward in search of an equaliser, with substitute Sekou Mara going close in quick succession, but Ten Hag’s side stood tall to seal their second consecutive victory.
GK: Gavin Bazunu – 6/10 – Made a terrific save to prevent Elanga at his near post in the first half. Alert to most things that United threw at him.
RB: Kyle Walker-Peters – 7/10 – Made several vital defensive interventions, including a pair of sensational blocks in the first half, and was a constant danger going forward for the home side.
CB: Armel Bella-Kotchap – 8/10 – Heroic block to deny Eriksen an almost certain opener from the deluge of United chances in the 18th minute. Spurned a great chance later in the half to break the deadlock, but his defending was immaculate all afternoon.
CB: Mohammed Salisu – 7/10 – His display didn’t grab attention in the same way as Bella-Kotchap, but he was cerebral in his defending and helped marshal the fluid frontline of the visitors.
LB: Moussa Djenepo – 5/10 – Targeted by United given his natural position doesn’t lie at full-back. Showed some intent going forward, but he was overwhelmed in the lead-up to Fernandes’ goal.
CM: James Ward-Prowse – 6/10 – Moved in unision with Lavia, displaying his promising passing range on a few ocassions. United stifled him well.
CM: Romeo Lavia – 7/10 – Clever in his ability to break up play and execute the right pass to immediately spring Southampton forward. Always alert to the danger and appears a very shrewd pick-up for the Saints.
RM: Mohamed Elyounoussi – 6/10 – Proved very dangerous when he floated infield and could square up the United backline. Interchanged impressively with Aribo.
AM: Joe Aribo – 6/10 – Enjoyed some early success cutting down the inside of United’s right-hand side. The ball was typically glued to his feet and he had the chance to level for the Saints with a header that was saved by De Gea.
LM: Adam Armstrong – 5/10 – Frustrated the home crowd at times. Lacked a punch in the final third and struggled to get the better of Dalot on a consistent basis.
ST: Che Adams – 5/10 – Made several clever runs and gave Martinez a tough afternoon in the first half. But he lacked conviction in front of goal and faded in the second half.
SUB: Stuart Armstrong (62′ for Elyounoussi) – 5/10 – Provided another attacking threat for Hasenhuttl’s side.
SUB: Sekou Mara (77′ for Armstrong) – N/A
SUB: Lyanco (89′ for Aribo) – N/A
SUB: Romain Perraud (89′ for Djenepo) – N/A
Manager: Ralph Hasenhuttl – 6/10 – A couple of his summer signings stood out, but his side lacked a punch in front of goal. The continued selection of Djenepo at left-back remains confusing.
GK: David de Gea – 7/10 – Called into action in the 65th minute when Aribo tested him with a header from close range, but he made an impressive reflex stop.
RB: Diogo Dalot – 8/10 – Provided excellent width on the right-hand side for United with his runs from deep, delivering a delicious ball into Fernandes to open the scoring for the away side.
CB: Raphael Varane – 6/10 – Currently offering more assurance to the United defence than the benched Harry Maguire. Dominant in the air which complements Martinez well.
CB: Lisandro Martinez – 6/10 – Southampton seemed to target him aerially in the early exchanges, but it was on the ground where he struggled to locate Che Adams in the first half. Vast improvement after the interval and didn’t put a foot wrong.
LB: Tyrell Malacia – 6/10 – Really strong in the challenge and didn’t offer Southampton much change down the outside. Growing into his role in the United side.
CM: Scott McTominay – 6/10 – Looked to run off the back of Southampton’s midfield whenever he could, testing Bazunu in the second half. Threw himself about excellently from a physical perspective.
CM: Christian Eriksen – 6/10 – Played a quarterback role for United, looking to turn defence into attack with one swing of his boot. As he did against Liverpool, however, he seemed to fade physically in the second period.
RM: Anthony Elanga – 6/10 – Ought to have done better when presented with a golden chance amid the United melee in the 18th minute. His movement in off the right from the touchline caused Saints problems, especially in the lead up to Fernandes’ strike.
AM: Bruno Fernandes – 7/10 – Had a couple of great chances to put United ahead in the first half, but he redeemed himself with an exquisite finish on the volley from Dalot’s pull-back cross. Looked more like his old self in the final third.
LM: Jadon Sancho – 4/10 – Operated from the left-hand side where Kyle-Walker proved his equal. Couldn’t weave his magic before he was withdrawn for Ronaldo.
ST: Marcus Rashford – 4/10 – Struggled in his central role. Stifled by Southampton’s impressive central defensive pairing and had very little space to exploit.
SUB: Cristiano Ronaldo (67′ for Sancho) – 5/10 – Wasn’t involved much as United aimed to protect their lead.
SUB: Casemiro (79′ for Elanga) – N/A
SUB: Fred (90′ for Eriksen) – N/A
Manager: Erik ten Hag – 6/10 – Continued with his omission of Maguire and Ronaldo and it bore fruit once again. He also seems to have gotten a tune out of Fernandes.