Manchester United have equalled a Premier League record – their own from 1995 – dismantling Southampton 9-0 on a hellacious night for the Saints.
Some 26 years ago Sir Alex Ferguson’s side steam-rolled Ipswich Town 9-0 with Andy Cole scoring five goals, but the Red Devils shared the spoils on this occasion, with goals from Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Marcus Rashford, Edinson Cavani, Scott McTominay, Daniel James, a Bruno Fernandes penalty, a Jan Bednarek own goal, and a double from Anthony Martial.
On what was already going to be a tough assignment, Southampton’s Alexandra Jankewitz committed the cardinal sin of being sent off in the second minute for an atrocious tackle on Scott McTominay.
Rashford could have opened the scored minutes later but elected to pass, as Southampton weathered the early storm.
On 18 minutes a superb ball from Luke Shaw found Wan-Bissaka at the far post, the defender stabbing home with aplomb to open the scoring.
Seven minutes later Rashford atoned for his earlier wastefulness, smashing home the second, and from there the match was over as a contest. The question was, how many?
It wasn’t Southampton’s night at all, at 4-0 down they had a well taken goal from Che Adams incorrectly chalked off for offside, then in the closing minutes a VAR decision went against them as Jan Bednarek was adjudged to have brought Martial down in the box, and was given a red card for his troubles.
The two red cards could end up being more costly than the nine goals conceded on a terrible night in Manchester.
For United, the scoring spree helps close the goal difference gap to Manchester City and Liverpool, and moves the club level on points with their neighbours, although City have two games in hand.
The record-equalling performance brought a smile to manager Ole-Gunnar Solskjaer’s face, who dubbed it a night to remember for United fans.
“Yes, 1995 wasn’t it? We shared the goals more between the boys than he did [Andy Cole, who scored five]. That was just before I came. Of course, we had an easier task with them getting a sending off so early but still, it is never easy to break teams down when they sit back and defend with 10 men and I thought we were excellent.”
“We moved the ball really well, quickly. We used the width, we had movements in behind, we had strikers who wanted to get on the end of it scoring goals – even had full-backs wanting to be on the end of it. It was one of those performances you once in a while get and you enjoy. I am sure everyone enjoyed being out there in a Man United shirt. We’ve been waiting for them to show their magic and tonight was the night that they could go and enjoy. We haven’t had too many of them where you can sit down in the second half and enjoy the football. They enjoyed it and [there were] some good performances.”
“I think the whole performance. You can’t pick out any one performance [that was best]. But the reaction from everyone when they scored, though it was offside, still that woke everyone up again and we finished the game very strongly.”
“You want to take your chances, you want to score goals of course. Sometimes a league position can be decided by goal difference. So we knew that when they got the sending off this is the chance to score goals. But you have to get the first one that’s the main thing. If you get the first one they have to open up a little bit and then you’ll get more and more chances to score more goals. We’ve been on the end of goal difference being the deciding factor unfortunately and of course, it was important to make the right decisions, play as well as you can and don’t think about them being 10 men or whatever. Play as well as you can.”
There was one concern, an injury to start striker Edinson Cavani forced the manager to substitute the Uruguayan.
“Edinson got a bad tackle on his ankle so he had to come off. He probably would have loved to be out there scoring goals.”
United have found their goal scoring touch again, and will welcome Everton to Old Trafford on Sunday looking to keep the pressure on league leaders City.
“There is a game on Saturday. We have a day extra recovery, so we should be ready for that one,” concluded Solskjaer.