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Manager Koeman may not admit it, but fixtures against the Champions League elite clubs usually mean a bit of tinkering to our line-up, so in came Romeu and Yoshida (at right back) to face Manchester United. I think it worked pretty well, but we all know Yoshida’s game has a mistake waiting to occur, and it proved fatal at the end of an entertaining clash. Saints started it better and scored early on thanks to a telling cross from Ward-Prowse that was met first-time by Mané – the shot was saved by DeGea but Pellè was on hand to net the rebound. This was a just reward for the Italian as he dominated Blind and Smalling all game and United’s defenders were only spared cautions for fouls on him thanks to Rooney’s continual dialogue with the referee. Of course we always have to play against the officials in matches like this, and it was no surprise that the referee’s assistant missed an offside against Mata in the build up to an equaliser scored by Martial after a quick turn enabled him to create a chance from a loose ball in the area. It has to be said, though, that the goal came after a period when Saints struggled to get possession against one of the strongest midfields around, and featuring Schneiderlin, of course. Then came Yoshida’s error – a misplaced backpass that went to highly expensive wonder-child Martial, and Saints found themselves behind just after the interval. As if they needed it, the visitors increased their midfield dominance by risking the injury prone Schweinsteiger on the hour, and he was instrumental in a multi-pass move that ended with the ball in the net via Mata after Depay had hit the post – it recalled Leeds making fools of the Saints defence in the early 70s and then as now, there was little anyone could do about it all. The game still had a long way to run and could have been wide open had DeGea not saved brilliantly from Fonte. Saints did have another goal in them, fittingly headed home by Pellè in the 87th minute, and they mounted a frantic finish that saw DeGea save again, this time from Wanyama.
LSSC Man of the Match: Graziano Pellè, but he still finished on the losing side despite two goals.
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