Southampton highlighted Manchester United’s vulnerability under
new manager David Moyes by grabbing an 89th-minute equalizer to
draw 1-1, leaving the champions eight points off the early pace in
the English Premier League on Saturday.
Having lost 2-1 to West Bromwich Albion in its last home game,
United’s aura of invincibility at Old Trafford took a further knock
when Adam Lallana glanced home from close range to earn Southampton
a deserved point.
Robin van Persie put United ahead in the 26th, pouncing on a
rebound after Wayne Rooney had a shot blocked, but Moyes’ side
never looked convincing against opponents who traveled north
without any fear.
Why should they, having beaten then-leader Liverpool away
already this season?
”We wanted to get a bit of momentum going today but we didn’t
get it,” said Moyes, whose tough start to life as Alex Ferguson’s
successor just became even tougher.
Southampton, one of the surprises of the league in this
campaign, started the game in the top four and won’t be too far
from the top of the table come the end of the season on this
”Why not?” responded Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino,
when asked if qualifying for the Champions League was a realistic
aim. ”We want to keep on believing we can keep on doing well.
”Getting a win at Anfield and getting a positive result here is
amazing for our team. It gives the squad so much belief that we can
go on and do amazing things.”
With league leader Arsenal showing no sign of slowing up, it
could get worse before it gets better for United. Eleven points
from eight games is a poor return for a club the size of United,
which won the league by 11 points last season.
At times, they were outplayed by Southampton, with Van Persie
and the ineffective Rooney being well shackled on the whole.
Southampton just lacked that cutting edge, which was found in
the last minute when James Ward-Prowse’s inswinging corner was
volleyed goalward by Dejan Lovren. Lallana got the slightest of
glances near the goal-line to turn the ball in, although there was
confusion as to who got the final touch. The Premier League gave
the goal to Lallana after deliberation.
”Disappointing to lose the goal late on,” Moyes said. ”We had
opportunities to finish the game off.”
He was probably referring to Rooney’s shot that crashed against
the bar moments after Van Persie’s goal, as well as Adnan Januzaj’s
swerving shot that was brilliantly kept out one-handed by
Southampton goalkeeper Artur Boruc.
Hours after signing a new five-year contract with United, the
18-year-old Januzaj was handed another start and another chance to
enhance his burgeoning reputation. The Belgium-born winger couldn’t
repeat his exploits of two weeks ago, when he scored twice in
United’s come-from-behind win at Sunderland, but it was his
incisive pass that led to Van Persie’s goal.
Januzaj’s curling through-ball to Rooney put the England striker
through, but his first-time shot was saved by Boruc. The ball
rebounded out to Van Persie, who rounded the goalkeeper and placed
the ball to the side of the sprawling Lovren, who was covering on
”He hasn’t looked out of place in the team,” Moyes said.
Southampton started and finished strongly, though, with Italy
striker Dani Osvaldo sidefooting straight at goalkeeper David de
Gea with the team’s best early chance before Nathaniel Clyne
brought a smart save from the Spaniard with five minutes left.
There was still time for Lallana to pounce, adding to United’s