Manchester United vs Southampton: Five things we learned as Marcus Rashford leads rout over Saints

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Manchester United vs Southampton: Five things we learned as Marcus Rashford leads rout over Saints

Manchester United easily beat Southampton 9-0 after the away team played 88 minutes with 10 men.Fewer than two minutes were on the clock when the g

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Manchester United easily beat Southampton 9-0 after the away team played 88 minutes with 10 men.

Fewer than two minutes were on the clock when the game’s defining moment occurred – a late and high tackle from Alexandre Jankewitz which saw him immediately sent-off. It took United just 18 minutes to take the lead against the 10 men, Luke Shaw crossing for Aaron Wan-Bissaka to poke home.

Marcus Rashford side-footed in the second before the half-hour mark and fizzed in a low cross which Jan Bednarek toe-poked into his own net for the third, before another Shaw cross was buried by an Edinson Cavani header for the fourth before half-time.

Che Adams thought he had pulled one back for Saints after the break, only to be ruled offside, while Anthony Martial struck an excellent solo goal and Scott McTominay drilled in a long-range sixth. Late on, Bednarek was harshly dismissed for an apparent foul on Martial with Bruno Fernandes scoring the penalty, before Martial blasted in his second and Dan James tapped in United’s ninth.

Here are five things we learned from the game at Old Trafford.

19-year-old Swiss midfielder Alexandre Jankewitz had played precisely one minute of Premier League football before starting here. After starting here, he has doubled his tally.

Barely 90 seconds were on the clock before he went studs-up on Scott McTominay’s knee and thigh, a real shocker of a challenge which left no doubts about the red card being shown. He’s highly rated by Ralph Hasenhuttl and perhaps the adrenaline of the game’s start got to him.

Either way, it wasn’t a full debut to remember and immediately killed his team’s chances of a result.

At right-back, it wasn’t a Premier League debut for Kayne Ramsey – he played once in 2018/19 – but his first league appearance since then for Saints saw him endure an incredibly tough night of his own.

Luke Shaw was allowed to raid forward constantly and a huge number of attacks came down that side of the pitch; Ramsey acquitted himself reasonably well in the challenge, but positional work and tracking runners is hard for 20-year-old rookies at the best of times, let alone at Old Trafford with only 10 men.

Rashford returns to prominence

After a run of six league games without a goal, Rashford would have been relieved to get on the scoresheet here – but his influence stretched far beyond a smart finish which took him past Eric Cantona in the all-time scorers list.

Rashford has recently been restricted to the graveyard shift under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: the right-wing role which needs to be filled, but not really by anyone who wants to play there as a primary role.

Here he switched back to the left and was involved non-stop in the brilliant opening, helping force space and crossing chances, though he did also create a goal from the right, crossing for Bednarek’s own goal.

Taken off after an hour, this was a different kind of substitution: protecting him because it was job done, not because of a lack of effectiveness as has been the case in previous weeks.

If Rashford was the stand-out performer in attack, he was closely followed by United’s full-backs.

Luke Shaw was brilliant: two assists, several other openings fashioned, a willing runner into space and defensively sound on the few occasions he was called upon in his own half of the pitch.

He might have been a man of the match candidate, were he not replaced at half-time – again a protective manager by the manager, such is his form and importance right now.

On the other side, Wan-Bissaka made a good defensive tackle or two tracking back, but also got forward to good effect with the all-important first goal and a few neat moments of link play, too.

Saints’ losing run and THAT scoreline

After a good run of form early in the season and just two defeats in 15 across all competitions up until mid-January, it’s now four straight losses for Southampton.

They had, briefly, harboured designs on a push for a European spot – those hopes are all-but-ended, with teams such as Aston Villa showing more consistency, Chelsea on the comeback trail and even Leeds now overtaking them on goal difference due to the manner of this heavy defeat.

Hasenhuttl is somewhat hamstrung by injuries right now, with right-back and central midfield particularly hard-hit by absences.

The manager can’t have any complaints about the first red card of the night, but the second looked farcical after the defender tried to avoid any contact and another VAR argument appears likely after this, and David Luiz’s earlier for Arsenal, red cards.

However, they reacted well to a 9-0 last season; they won’t want to repeat the scoreline too often, but it will at least give evidence they can bounce back again over the coming weeks and months.

United stay second after this victory, but they are again level on points with table-topping Manchester City.

Moreover, they remain out of immediate reach of Liverpool, who are third and play Wednesday, while also taking the chance to improve their goal difference by a reasonable amount.

After one win in four heading into this fixture the rails had come off somewhat, so the helping hand – or outstretched leg – to gain this easy three points could hardly have come at a better time.

Upcoming games against Everton and West Ham will be as intriguing as they are important, with both those teams chasing European spots – and City to face Liverpool too, meaning at least one will drop points to give United further chance to stake their claim.

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