Just when you start thinking that ship is about to reach the shores, all of a sudden you discover, the ship sinks and your dreams take a telling blow. Life at times gives you lemons, but not always you cannot make lemonades from them.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sure that Manchester United had bagged full points and his dream to reach the top four would be fulfilled until the 96th minute when Ward-Prowse’s corner was flicked on by Jan Bednarek and Michael Obafemi beat Victor Lindelof to nudge the ball over the line from a yard out.

Southampton scripted a thrilling finish.

Manchester United dropped points and move to fifth place.

With Chelsea and Leicester both on the end of significant defeats over the weekend, a win for United would have seen them jump up to third with just three more league games remaining.

Their recent form had been satisfactory.

Since the draw at Tottenham, their first fixture after the restart, Manchester United bagged four consecutive wins. That run, aligned with the dodgy form of Leicester and Chelsea, had led the English record champions to become likely candidates to make the Champions League.

But now, following City’s win in the courts and this damaging blow, it’s back up for grabs.

Southampton made life difficult for Manchester United all night long. Their strong defensive shape, high press, and compact midfield meant the hosts struggled to make an impact from the word go.

Danny Ings was keeping things tight, which led to Southampton deservedly taking the lead. Ings caught Paul Pogba in possession on the edge of the area, then fed the ball to Nathan Redmond.

But United, unbeaten since January and playing an unchanged side for the fifth consecutive league game, had the confidence to get back into the game through the deadly strike force of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford. Their majestic ability turned the game on its head in the space of two minutes and 31 seconds.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka made his way through a compact Southampton backline with some excellent footwork but it was Martial who really impressed to bring United back on terms. Pogba played the ball into the area and Martial somehow managed to poke the ball to Rashford as he was falling to the ground under a challenge from Armstrong.

There were loud shouts for a penalty but United didn’t need one as Rashford showed his composure to level things up.

Martial’s assist meant it was the sixth time the pair linked up for a goal in the current campaign.

A few minutes after assisting Rashford, Martial was on the scoresheet himself.

Bruno Fernandes provided another assist but it was a superb individual effort as Martial’s burst of pace left Kyle Walker-Peters in his wake.

He cut inside and rifled the ball past McCarthy to match Rashford on 21 for the season. It was his 50th league goal for the club.

The same pair combined perfectly in the second half with an exquisite piece of football linking up down the left.

Somehow Rashford’s effort was kept out by a rushing Ryan Bertrand, who cleared his effort for a corner.

That was a big chance Solskjaer would come to rue.

Pogba, who had an off day, hit an effort against the post and there was another great chance for Martial after he left the Saints defence for dead only to be denied by a brilliant block from Jack Stephens.

While frontline of United impressed, the backline was asked questions more often – Walker-Peters flashed a warning sign just after the hour mark as he put a brilliant ball across the face of goal but there was nobody there to finish. Again, in the first half, Redmond delivered a good ball to the back post where Stuart Armstrong was there to finish in style – and the visitors were hungry for more, with Redmond on the charge again a minute later.

In the end, Southampton’s persistence paid off – they pulled off a stunning draw out of the jaws of defeat.


United need to exhibit more conviction in remaining matches.

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