Player Ratings, Reaction and Highlights : Manchester United 9-0 Southampton

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Manchester United recorded a resounding victory to boost their morale at just the right time, though they were given a little help from the visitors who were reduced to nine men by the end of a long night for them.

Southampton came into the game with injury problems. The task for the Saints was made that much more difficult when Jankewitz was dismissed for a wild high lunge on McTominay just 79 seconds into the game.

United, sensing an opportunity, looked urgent to get an early goal; but the urgency came with rashness and sloppiness, with passes being overhit. Time is not infinite, as Solskjaer’s team learned last week with their laboured performance against Sheffield United, and a win was not a foregone conclusion, with Southampton packing their defence.

Composure and quality were required; two ingredients United displayed in the 18th minute when Shaw’s cross was met at the back post by Wan-Bissaka’s smart finish that went in off the post. The goal was perfectly timed in order to alleviate any tension.

The next step was to get a comfortable win, something United have barely managed this season – but that step was taken in the 25th minute when Marcus Rashford converted Mason Greenwood’s smart cross.

Rashford then turned provider eight minutes later, drilling a ball across goal and Jan Bednarek could only knock it into his own net.

All of a sudden United’s players sensed goals were there for the taking; another came in the 39th minute thanks to another fantastic Shaw cross. This time, Edinson Cavani was the beneficiary, with his expert header the sort you want to see from your centre-forward.

One was inclined to feel sorry for the Southampton players who had been dropped in the deep end by their team-mate; but United’s forwards did not, and from their next attack they were awarded a penalty when Cavani was brought down on the edge of the box. The decision was overturned by VAR and brought back for a free-kick, though by the letter of the law the penalty probably should have stood as Cavani’s foot was on the line, therefore part of the area; maybe the officials had a little sympathy.

At the break, Van De Beek and Martial were brought on for Shaw and Cavani, with Solskjaer clearly hoping for some confidence boosts at the same time as getting the opportunity to rest a couple of players.

United looked a little lopsided after moving Fred to left-back and the changes almost cost them; Van De Beek was booked for a rash tackle, and Fred was turned from the free-kick with Che Adams still having a lot of work to do and hitting a wonderful finish in off the post. In episode four thousand of VAR for the season, Adams’ knee-hair was seemingly adjudged to have been caught by the wind and pulled in front of Fred to see the Saints forward flagged offside.

Dan James was then brought on for Rashford for a rare outing.

Just when the impetus seemed to have gone from the game there was a moment of true quality; Fernandes’ ball over the defence was exceptional, and so too was the timing of Martial’s run and shot into the net.

A couple of minutes later it was six; Greenwood’s shot was saved, and the ball rebounded out to the edge of the box perfectly for Scott McTominay to drill in a perfect first-time drive.

Martial almost made it seven but his clever clipped effort bounced just wide. The French forward was adjudged to have been brought down with 7 minutes to go and another penalty was awarded. Again, the decision was studied at length by VAR with Mike Dean asked to review it. Not only was the decision upheld, Bednarek rounded off his own miserable night with a red card as he was the last man.

Fernandes put the penalty away with much less fuss – and United now moved past their last six goal win in the league, against Arsenal in 2011, to a seven goal margin which had not been managed since February 1999.

Then it was an eight goal margin – Wan-Bissaka’s cross was controlled and dispatched by Martial.

Remarkably, there was time for a ninth – Fernandes’ cushioned header was perfect, and James nudged it in with the outside of his foot in the six yard box.

It marked United’s biggest win of the century and biggest since the same scoreline against Ipswich 26 years ago.

Selection

Solskjaer could have been criticised for his ‘go-to’ pragmatic choice of McTominay and Fred in midfield but he explained this by saying Pogba needed a rest; there was no such excuse for Martial, who could have expected Cavani to replace him. But almost as soon as the second minute dismissal and certainly as soon as the first goal, any talk about the selection was effectively redundant because United were in complete control.

Ratings

De Gea 7

Wan-Bissaka 9

Lindelof 7

Maguire 7

Shaw 9

McTominay 9

Fred 8

Fernandes 8

Greenwood 7

Cavani 8

Rashford 8

Subs

Van De Beek

Martial 8

AWB

Rashford

OG

Cavani

Wayne Barton

Wayne is a writer and producer. His numerous books on Manchester United include the authorised biography of Jimmy Murphy. He wrote and produced the BT Sport film 'Too Good To Go Down'. In 2015 he was described by the Independent as the 'leading writer on Manchester United' and former club chairman Martin Edwards has described him as 'the pre-eminent writer on the club'.

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