Manchester United - Moyes' boys should have put the Southampton game to bed

Southampton's Adam Lallana popped up with a late equaliser to deny Manchester United manager David Moyes a home win.

Adam Lallana scored his second goal in as many games, with a dramatic 89th minute leveller for Mauricio Pochettino's Southampton.

Southampton, who went into the game in 4th place and four points clear of opponents Manchester United, started strongly, pressuring the United back four and central midfielders into numerous errors.

This was reflected in the possession statistics, with Southampton having 54% of possession on an overcast afternoon at Old Trafford.

Lallana flicked home the equaliser from a measly two yards out, capitalising on a Dejan Lovren header from a James Ward-Prowse corner. Up until that point, it appeared that David Moyes would ease the pressure on his position with a home victory.

Manchester United took the lead through Robin Van Persie shortly before the half-hour mark. Man of the moment Adnan Januzaj split the defence with an exceptional through ball, allowing Wayne Rooney to go one-on-one with Artur Boruc. Rooney's initial attempt was saved, but Van Persie was alert to slide in the follow up, defeating Dejan Lovren's last ditch attempted block on the line.

The goal was to prove to be the first goal Southampton had conceded in just under seven hours of Premier League action. The Saints went into the game with the second best defensive record in the top five European leagues, with only Serie A front-runners AS Roma having conceded less goals.

Moyes' boys should've put the game to bed long before Lallana's late goal, with Wayne Rooney thundering an attempt off the crossbar in the first half. Robin Van Persie was also to be denied by the woodwork, seeing his second half header from a corner cannon back into play.

The movement of the majestic attacking trio of Adnan Januzaj, Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie wreaked trouble across the Southampton back-line, with Jose Fonte being caught out on more than one occasion. Januzaj in particular was crucial to Manchester United's play, attempting to pull the strings, effortlessly drifting past the black strip of the visitors - having earlier signed a five-year deal with the Manchester giants before kick-off.

Whilst Southampton's opportunities were less clear-cut, Saints captain Adam Lallana turned in an imperious display in connection with the midfield partnership of Victor Wanyama and Morgan Schneiderlin. Lallana caught the eye, jinking past United players with a plethora of Cruyff turns and flicks, in connection with his high work-rate throughout the duration of the fixture. His performance will have only further justified the call of Mauricio Pochettino, who suggested that England manager Roy Hodgson may soon call up the Southampton midfielder.

Dani Osvaldo spurned a couple of decent opportunities for the guess, who continued to battle and create, albeit with very little end product. Southampton hung on to see off a turbulent ten minutes before half-time, as Mauricio Pochettino pondered his options.

Southampton talisman Rickie Lambert was introduced in place of the anonymous Jay Rodriguez fifteen minutes into the second half, as the visitors sought new opportunities in the final third.

Adnan Januzaj tested Artur Boruc to the limit with a rasping drive from twenty-five yards, but September's Player of the Month nominee pulled a save out of the top drawer. Wayne Rooney went close once again, finding a yard of space at the far-post. His headed attempt was low and well-placed, but once again Boruc was equal to the attempt, turning the ball away for a corner.

With time running out, David Moyes introduced Ryan Giggs, Danny Welbeck and Chris Smalling throughout the second half to steady the ship, as Southampton continued to turn the tide. A flurry of late corners were well-defended, but Manchester United were unable to hold out.

In the final minute of normal time, James Ward-Prowse whipped an intelligent corner into the penalty area, finding Dejan Lovren near the penalty spot. The Croatian international sent the ball goal-wards, but the slightest of touches from Adam Lallana saw Southampton's captain credited with the dramatic late goal.

images: © wonker, © Paolo Camera

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