Manchester United dropped points for the third time in the first four Premier League games of the season as they were held 1-1 by 10-man Southampton at St. Mary’s.
Daniel James’s fine form since a £15 million move from Swansea continued as he fired United into the lead on 10 minutes.
But the defensive problems that blighted the end of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first season in charge are still to be resolved by the Norwegian and Jannik Vestergaard headed home Southampton’s equaliser after half-time.
Manchester United’s Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea (C) makes a save during the English Premier League football match between Southampton and Manchester United at St Mary’s Stadium in Southampton, southern England on August 31, 2019. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)
Southampton’s Kevin Danso was then sent-off for a second bookable offence, but United could not make the extra man count despite relentless late pressure.
United have just five points from their opening four games after being held 1-1 at Wolves and suffering a shock 2-1 home loss to Crystal Palace last weekend.
Southampton’s Austrian manager Ralph Hasenhuttl (R) celebrates at the final whistle next to Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (L) during the English Premier League football match between Southampton and Manchester United at St Mary’s Stadium in Southampton, southern England on August 31, 2019. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)
The visitors were penned into their own half for the first 10 minutes, but with practically their first attack went in front, thanks to the in-form James.
The Welsh winger is sure to get plenty of minutes in his first season in the English top-flight thanks to the departure of Alexis Sanchez on loan to Inter Milan this week. James has already scored as many Premier League goals for United in four games as the Chilean did in 18 months at Old Trafford.
James was allowed room by the Saints defence to cut inside onto his favoured right foot and rifle his third goal in four appearances into the top corner.
The visitors seemed liberated by going in front and could have built on their advantage as Marcus Rashford headed horribly wide and James just failed to reach a dangerous cross from the England international.
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted on Friday that he is happy for Rashford and Anthony Martial, who missed the trip to St. Mary’s with a thigh injury, to carry the goalscoring burden this season with no replacement signed for the departed Romelu Lukaku or Sanchez.
However, Rashford failed to find the finishing touch to an otherwise purposeful performance. He again could not squeeze the ball beyond Angus Gunn early in the second half.
United have invested heavily to improve a defence that conceded 54 Premier League goals last season with the signings of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and the world’s most expensive defender Harry Maguire.
Yet, Solskjaer’s men remain vulnerable at the back and were exposed in the air twice in quick succession as Southampton levelled just before the hour mark.
David de Gea made a brilliant save to prevent Danny Ings’s header finding the far corner, but Danso was first to the rebound and from his cross Vestergaard towered above Victor Lindelof to head home.
Danso almost undid his good work, 17 minutes from time recklessly diving in on Scott McTominay to earn a second yellow card and give United the upper hand in the closing stages.
Rashford’s weak near-post effort was kicked to safety by Gunn before Solskjaer turned to 17-year-old Mason Greenwood from the bench in search of a winner.
United laid seige to the Southampton goal with Gunn flying to his right to save from Greenwood, while Ashley Young curled inches wide from outside the box, but Southampton held on.
Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuettl punched the air in celebration at full-time.
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