No separating Saints, Red Devils

December 2, 2018 5:00 AM

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No separating Saints, Red Devils

It seemingly needs a sleepy start to a game to jolt Manchester United's players into action these days.

Trailing 2-0 after 20 minutes against a team without a win in three months, United recovered to draw 2-2 for a result that leaves Jose Mourinho's side 16 points off the lead in the English Premier League (EPL) after just 14 games.

That lead was extended by Manchester City, who beat Bournemouth 3-1 to go five points clear of second-place Liverpool.

Mourinho joked recently that United's slow starts are causing his hair to turn white. There was the 3-2 win over Newcastle in early October from 2-0 down after 10 minutes, which might have saved Mourinho's job; the 2-1 win at Bournemouth in early November after going behind after 11 minutes; the comebacks, too, against Chelsea and also Juventus in the UEFA Champions League.

Yesterday, perhaps it was no surprise United struggled early on with Mourinho reacting to a crisis at centre back by fielding a back three featuring centre midfielders Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay.

Stuart Armstrong drove home an angled finish for Southampton's opening goal in the 13th, and Cedric Soares curled a free kick into the top corner for 2-0.

Romelu Lukaku ran on to a pass from Marcus Rashford to shoot high into the net in the 33rd for his first goal for United since September 15. More impressive work from Rashford led to the second goal, the striker crossing for Ander Herrera to flick in deftly at the near post.

In the race for a top-four finish to qualify for the Champions League, which might be a minimum requirement for Mourinho to stay in his job, United are six points behind fourth-place Chelsea, whose game in hand is against Fulham today.


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