Manchester United 0-0 Southampton: Casemiro sees red in entertaining goalless draw
A week after their character was called into question after a devastating seven-goal defeat at Anfield, Manchester United were put to the test again at Old Trafford as they had to play for an hour with 10 men following Casemiro’s second sending-off of the season.
The Brazilian was shown a straight red card for his challenge on Carlos Alcaraz after referee Anthony Taylor was advised by VAR to review his initial decision to only caution Casemiro.
This time, though, United held it together and Old Trafford got behind them to help. In one of the most entertaining goalless draws you are likely to see, a revitalised Southampton hit the woodwork twice and United once.
David de Gea produced an brilliant save from Theo Walcott and Gavin Buzunu from Bruno Fernandes. United’s frustration with Taylor was only exacerbated by the fact he rejected two strong penalty appeals.
By the end of it, United had dropped more points after the Anfield debacle but manager Erik ten Hag will be immeasurably happier with the character and courage of his players in the face of adversity.
Casemiro was initially shown a yellow card by Anthony Taylor following a lunging tackle on Southampton’s Carlos Alcaraz
The Brazilian midfielder was sent off after Taylor upgraded the decision following a VAR review by the side of the pitch
Casemiro will now serve a four-match ban after being shown his second straight red card of the season
The key incident occurred just after the half hour mark as Alcaraz chased an over-hit pass from Theo Walcott. It was a straight 50-50 challenge between Southampton’s No.26 and Casemiro who had every right to go for the ball as the two players reached it at the same time.
There were two problems for the Brazilian. Firstly, both of his feet clearly left the ground. Secondly, he may have made contact with the ball first, but more forceful contact was made with Alcaraz’s right shin on the follow through.
As the Argentine writhed on the floor, Che Adams led the calls from his teammates demanding maximum punishment from the referee. No sooner had Taylor decided that it was only worthy of yellow card for Casemiro, VAR official Andre Marriner told him to have another look on the pitch-side monitor.
From that moment on, it felt like a formality. Taylor upgraded the yellow to a red and Casemiro buried his head in his shirt. It’s only five weeks ago that he was sent off here for grabbing Will Hughes by the throat in a game against Crystal Palace. A second red card this season means he now faces a four-match ban, missing the games against Fulham, Newcastle, Brentford and Everton.
The 31-year-old looked distraught as he was consoled by Antony and David de Gea on his way down the tunnel, pausing to embrace Alcaraz who was able to continue until early in the second half.
The setback seemed to galvanise the fans inside Old Trafford, who until that point had been preoccupied with venting their feelings towards the owners, and even more so after two contentious penalty decisions before half-time.
United saw first half appeals for a penalty waved away when Bruno Fernandes went down under Kyle Walker-Peters challenge
Referee Antony Taylor turned down further appeals after Armel Bella-Kotchap appeared to handle Marcus Rashford’s cross
Aaron Wan-Bissaka cleared off the line after Scott McTominay inadvertently diverted the ball past David De Gea
In the 40th minute, Fernandes went down under a sliding challenge from Kyle Walker-Peters who got the ball first but caught the United captain with his follow through.
Fernandes protested furiously to Taylor but then composed himself and placated his teammates, perhaps mindful of the fierce criticism of his lack of leadership at Anfield.
He could hardly contain his frustration again three minutes later when Armel Bella-Kotchap handled Marcus Rashford’s low cross. The Saints defender had slipped to his knees and there was no doubt the ball struck his left arm. The question was whether Bella-Kotchap could have avoided contact, and the referee decided he could not.
Like Fernandes, Wout Weghorst isn’t shy at letting referees know how he feels and the big Dutchman was still chuntering to himself when he left the pitch moments later as Ten Hag sent on Scott McTominay as a replacement for Casemiro and sacrificed a forward.
It was a frantic finale to what had started out as quite a mundane afternoon in Manchester. Saints goalkeeper Bazunu denied Rashford, who went for goal rather than squaring the ball to a furious Weghorst, and then raced out to smother at the feet of United’s in-form forward. Fernandes curled over from 25 yards.
De Gea produced the best save of the first half, tipping over Walcott’s header from close range after he had beaten Luke Shaw to Romain Perraud’s cross.
Following two wins in three league games under new manager Ruben Selles, Saints were posed a threat even before Casemiro’s departure which saw Taylor leave the pitch to a cacophony of boos at half-time as Ten Hag got in the ear of fourth official Stuart Attwell.
A breathless second half produced less controversy but more in the way of goalmouth action. Aaron Wan-Bissaka had to clear off the line after McTominay inadvertently diverted the ball past De Gea, and James Ward-Prowse clipped the top of the bar as he went close to equalling David Beckham’s Premier League record of scoring from 18 free kicks.
Walker-Peters also hit the frame of De Gea’s goal with a fierce effort, and United were denied by the woodwork at the other end when Shaw teed up Fernandes whose 20-yard effort was brilliantly touched onto the post by Bazunu as the ball rolled back across goal.
James Ward-Prowse clipped the Manchester United crossbar with a superb free-kick at the start of the second half
The England midfielder remains one direct free-kick behind equalling David Beckham’s record in the Premier League
Bruno Fernandes was denied by the post after seeing an effort turned onto the woodwork by goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu
Kyle Walker-Peters saw his effort come back off the upright just minutes after Fernandes had been denied the opener
Theo Walcott spurned the clearest chance of the game after being denied when put one on one with David de Gea
Arguably the best chance of the game went Southampton’s way in the 64th minute when United lost possession at a corner and Bella-Kotchap sent Walcott clear from halfway.
A younger Walcott would probably have left Lisandro Martinez trailing and beaten De Gea. But at 33, some of that blistering pace has gone and Martinez was able to get back and put off Walcott before De Gea kept out his effort.
Ten Hag sent on Alejandro Garnacho and Facundo Pellistri for Jadon Sancho and Antony, but Garnacho only lasted 16 minutes after he was hurt by another sliding tackle from Walker-Peters.
The young Argentine was able to continue after treatment on his right ankle, but was withdrawn in the last minute of normal time. United had lost enough players for one day.
MATCH FACTS AND RATINGS
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): De Gea 7; Wan-Bissaka 6.5, Varane 7, Martinez 8 (Maguire 90), Shaw 7; Casemiro 5, Fernandes 6.5; Antony 6 (Pellistri 74, 6), Sancho 5 (Garnacho 73, 6, Fred 89), Rashford 6; Weghorst 5.5 (McTominay 44, 6).
Subs not used: Heaton, Malacia, Dalot, Mainoo.
Sent off: Casemiro
Booked: Martinez, Shaw
Manager: Erik ten Hag 6.5
Southampton (4-3-3): Bazunu 7; Walker-Peters 7, Bednarek 6.5, Bella-Kotchap 6, Perraud 6; Ward-Prowse 6.5, Lavia 7, Sulemana 6 (A Armstrong 76, 6); Walcott 6 (Onuachu 85), Alcaraz 6 (S Armstrong 55, 6), Adams 5 (Mara 76, 6).
Subs not used: McCarthy, Caleta-Car, Salisu, Elyounoussi, Diallo.
Manager: Ruben Selles 6.5
Referee: Antony Taylor 5