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Manchester United 2-2 Southampton: Late equaliser sets back hosts’ top-four hopes


Southampton have avoided defeat in both Premier League matches against Manchester United for the second time, after doing so in 2013-14 (both 1-1 draws)

Southampton substitute Michael Obafemi’s 96th-minute equaliser prevented Manchester United from jumping up to third place and leaves their Champions League qualification still in the balance.

United led 2-1 for 73 minutes after Marcus Rashford had slotted home an equaliser and Anthony Martial fired a superb second three minutes later.

They were on course to leapfrog top-four rivals Chelsea and Leicester but Obafemi bundled in a set-piece at the back post deep in stoppage time after it had been flicked on by Jan Bednarek.

The Saints had initially taken the lead through Stuart Armstrong’s 12th-minute strike, following Paul Pogba’s mistake, and after fighting back to draw, they now sit five points outside of the top 10 and level on points with Everton.

United remain fifth with three games left despite defeats for rivals Chelsea and Leicester over the weekend – but will still qualify for the Champions League if they win their last three games, as they travel to the King Power Stadium on the final day of the season.

Man Utd chained to fifth spot

United’s fate remains in their own hands.

But the late goal from Obafemi came as a blow for United, who had been the better side for most of the match.

They had chances to extend their lead at 2-1 – Martial proving a constant threat throughout, while Rashford came close with a driven effort from long range after having a goal ruled out for offside in the first half.

But the Saints never looked out of it and the clinical edge United had shown coming into this match – they had scored 15 goals in their five previous games – seemed to evade them in the second half when Rashford’s effort was blocked on the line by a sliding Ryan Bertrand.

There will be concern for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer over Luke Shaw, who hobbled off in the second half after he seemed to twist his ankle, before Brandon Williams took a heavy blow to the head.

However, United’s hopes of Champions League football are still very much alive – and Chelsea must respond in Tuesday’s home match against relegated Norwich City.

Saints’ bright form continues

Southampton took an early lead through Stuart Armstrong

Southampton were full of confidence heading to Old Trafford, having lost just one of their past five matches and seen off Manchester City earlier this month.

They showed that in the opening stages – Bertrand and Kyle Walker-Peters getting in behind the United defence before Nathan Redmond’s cross to Armstrong was fired into the far corner for the opening goal.

But United’s in-form attackers were quick to respond – Martial’s neat first touch, smart turn and determined poke through finding Rashford unmarked in the box for the equaliser before he cut inside of Walker-Peters with ease and smashed it beyond Alex McCarthy for their second.

That goal looked set to be the winner as Rashford and Martial continued to threaten and Southampton remained in the game thanks to Bertrand’s stunning block in the six-yard area.

But as the game went on, Southampton sensed there was an opportunity – Redmond drew a save from David de Gea with five minutes of normal time remaining before Bednerak’s flick wasn’t dealt with by United and Obafemi did everything he could to push the ball over the line having been on the pitch for less than 10 minutes.

Southampton were perhaps fortunate Oriol Romeu was not punished for a contentious challenge on Mason Greenwood in the first half but manager Ralph Hasenhuttl will be delighted with how his team have performed since the restart.

Man of the match – Anthony Martial

Martial (two assists) and Rashford (four) have combined for six Premier League goals this season – no Manchester United duo have ever combined for more in a single campaign. The Frenchman also became the 10th player to score 50 Premier League goals for Manchester United

What’s next?

Southampton host Brighton in their next Premier League match on Thursday, 16 July (20:15 BST), while Manchester United play at Crystal Palace at the same time.

More to follow.

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