James strikes again but United pegged back by Saints
Daniel James’ stunner was unable to inspire Manchester United to victory at Southampton thanks to Jan Vestergaard’s towering header and a spirited display after Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side were reduced to 10 men.
United have an outstanding record at St Mary’s and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men looked on course for a first away win since their jaw-dropping Champions League triumph at Paris St Germain.
But the visitors were unable to build on James’ beautiful early strike and Vestergaard levelled after the break, with Saints holding on for a 1-1 draw despite Kevin Danso’s sending-off leaving them under the cosh.
United head into the international break with plenty to work on after three winless matches, but at least they appear to have found a potential star.
James has shone since his low-key arrival from Swansea and struck home a spectacular eighth-minute opener to take his Premier League tally to three – as many goals as Alexis Sanchez mustered in 19 underwhelming months before this week’s loan move to Inter Milan.
Saints rallied after a poor first half and Vestergaard beat Victor Lindelof in the air to equalise but hope of a first home win against United since 2003 was ended when Danso picked up a second yellow card on his home debut.
It brought a nervy end to a match that Hasenhuttl’s side had started brightly – for 10 minutes, at least.
Sofiane Boufal went close as Saints hassled and harried from the outset, only to be undone as right-back Cedric Soares, making his first league start of the season, was dragged out of position by Juan Mata’s smart overlapping run.
3️⃣ #PL shots on target3️⃣ #PL goals— Premier League (@premierleague) August 31, 2019
That movement gave James time and space just inside the box to rifle a stunning effort past Angus Gunn into the top right-hand corner.
The Welsh flyer’s next attempt was far tamer and easy to stop, while fellow new boy Aaron Wan-Bissaka poked over from a fine Scott McTominay cross.
Gunn produced an unorthodox punch when James next tried his luck and the offside flag saved Marcus Rashford’s blushes after he was found by the goalscorer’s cross in a good position but headed horribly wide.
Both sets of fans had something to cheer when a thumping Vestergaard clearance hit divisive referee Mike Dean – a moment that was followed by Saints belatedly jolting into life.
Danny Ings flashed wide and new boy Danso’s vast throw-ins were alarming the United backline. McTominay did well block a Boufal effort and Harry Maguire was booked for a lunge on Che Adams.
Rashford fluffed his lines early in the second half after Vestergaard misread a ball over the top – a missed chance that the giant Danish defender would make United pay for.
Shortly after Adams lashed over from an acute angle, Ings met a smart Boufal corner with a flick that David De Gea did well to stop. But the ball fell to Danso and he turned to float over a superb cross that imposing Vestergaard headed home after beating Lindelof.
St Mary’s erupted and the hosts upped the ante, with Ashley Young forced to put behind his own goal after Boufal sent over a threatening cross.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg tried his luck from distance but hopes of a turnaround were dashed when already booked Danso received his marching orders for a poor challenge on McTominay. There was no need for the video assistant referee.
Gunn denied James’ fizzing attempt as United immediately went up a gear, with Rashford next to be denied.
Mason Greenwood went down in the box, but no penalty was awarded as United pushed for a late winner.
Fellow substitute Jesse Lingard curled just wide and Greenwood forced a smart save from Gunn as the clock wound down, with Young going close with a long-range effort.
But there was to be no late winner as Southampton dug deep to frustrate United.
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