Casemiro red card stalls Manchester United in draw against Southampton | Premier League
Frantic, vibrant, tetchy on occasion, and featuring a first-half Casemiro sending off which may mean a four-game ban: as a goalless draw this was breathless entertainment and the point Manchester United and Southampton emerged with a fair result.
United did not like the Brazilian’s dismissal which, as a second this season (in his past eight outings), could invoke an extra-match tariff, or much else of the performance of Anthony Taylor as he later turned down two penalty shouts. But despite their lowly position Southampton were a muscular, pacy opponent and will feel they might have won on another day.
For the closing phases Erik ten Hag removed Jadon Sancho and Antony for Facundo Pellistri and Alejandro Garnacho as he sought the victory despite United’s man disadvantage. It did not work but there was a rip-roaring finish and you could admire the Dutchman’s courage particularly after last weekend’s debacle at Anfield.
A home game, though, against the bottom team had seemed the ideal foe on returning to league action after that 7–0 trouncing by Liverpool. Ten Hag, who likes a tactical tweak, placed Sancho at No 10 which was a way of accommodating him, Antony, Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Wout Weghorst in a front five of an XI featuring only Casemiro as a holding player.
The Brazilian was as lackadaisical when passing straight to James Ward-Prowse as Lisandro Martínez was when committing a similar misdemeanour. After the latter was booked, Southampton tapped the ball about from the free-kick, Kyle Walker-Peters fired a grass-cutter at David de Gea, and he saved.
United soaked all this up and counter-punched. Fernandes tried to roll Rashford in and Southampton thwarted him; then Luke Shaw flipped up a cross for Weghorst, he could not connect, the lurking Antony did but, again, the danger was stymied.
Weghorst next screamed at Rashford when his buccaneering run was found by Fernandes and he drove at goal – Gavin Bazunu saved – when the forward might have turned the ball to Weghorst. Rashford claimed a corner – it came to nothing – Martínez chipped towards an in-rushing Fernandes, and Bazunu once more intervened: this was a contest of moments not patterns as illustrated by the visitors occupying United near their goal via a Romain Perraud cross that Theo Walcott headed for what would have been the opener but for a panther-like De Gea beating away.
The lack of structure from United will infuriate Ten Hag as this is his base requirement. Shaw’s swirling 50-yard ball that spun from his left flank onto Martínez’s toes along his right was pretty but was an apt vignette of the home team’s openness as the fleet-heeled Kamaldeen Sulemana left Aaron Wan-Bissaka gasping and let fly, Raphaël Varane’s block timely.
Now, a quasi-disaster for United and Casemiro: taking the ball first the studs of his right boot rolled over and scythed Carlos Alcaraz’s shin. Taylor gave a yellow card, the VAR ordered him pitchside, and after inspecting a replay, it became a red.
This had Casemiro close to tears, consoled by Antony, exchanging hugs with Alcaraz, and walking off, mortified, to applause. Ward-Prowse’s subsequent free-kick went close and when United next attacked the match lit up.
Fernandes sprinted in and Walker-Peters challenged and down the captain went in the area. Taylor waved this away – it appeared a 50-50 call – as the official did following Armel Bella-Kotchap seeming to handle the ball, from a half-crouch position, the VAR this time not interested in either.
Weghorst was the fall guy for Casemiro’s early shower – Scott McTominay entering for the striker, and the period ended with Taylor booed and Ten Hag arguing with the fourth official, Stuart Attwell.
On resumption, McTominay was saved from an own goal by a Wan-Bissaka clearance – on to De Gea and away – after Walker-Peters’s cross was inadvertently turned past United’s keeper by the Scot.
United were in the classic 10-man stick-or-twist scenario. Given they were unable to shut-out Liverpool at three and 4-0 behind, further foolhardiness was not required, while Taylor’s popularity was not helped by him penalising Fernandes precisely where Ward-Prowse is lethal from: 20 yards out. His effort skimmed De Gea’s bar and United escaped.
Then, they managed to move upfield. Rashford broke, Shaw crossed, Fernandes skipped down the left. Grab an opener and hold tight seemed United’s best bet, the fare as bitty and invigorating as it was throughout. Shaw nearly did, chesting Antony’s ball down and seeing Walker-Peters get in the way of his shot.
Further topsy-turviness occurred when Wan-Bissaka ceded possession to Walcott and he skated 70 yards, Martínez reached him, and De Gea flew left to save when the Southampton attacker unloaded. The Spaniard could (grudgingly) admire how Bazunu did the same, seconds later, tipping Fernandes’s shot onto his left post but United’s No 1 could do nothing from Southampton’s next foray when Walker-Peters’s arrow beat him but he was relieved to see the ball smack the right upright.