Super-sub Cavani inspires Manchester United fightback

Manchester United’s Edinson Cavani and Southampton’s Jannik Vestergaard during their match in Southampton. (AP)
Short Url
Updated 30 November 2020

Super-sub Cavani inspires Manchester United fightback

  • United climbed to seventh place, two points adrift of the Champions League places

SOUTHAMPTON: Edinson Cavani inspired Manchester United’s thrilling fightback from two goals down to snatch a dramatic 3-2 win against Southampton on Sunday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were facing a dismal defeat after first half goals from Jan Bednarek and James Ward-Prowse put Southampton in control at St. Mary’s.

Adding to Solskjaer’s problems, United lost goalkeeper David de Gea to a knee injury at halftime.

But Uruguay striker Cavani sparked United’s escape act after coming on at the interval.

Cavani set up Bruno Fernandes to reduce the deficit and the former Paris Saint-Germain star grabbed the equalizer from his teammate’s deflected shot.

The 33-year-old netted again in the final moments as his third goal since signing as a free agent in October extended United’s winning to four games in all competitions.

United climbed to seventh place, two points adrift of the Champions League places, after setting a club record of eight successive away Premier League wins.

It was exactly the kind of influential display Solskjaer was hoping for from Cavani when he moved for him after United’s failed pursuit of Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho.

Written off as a panic buy in some quarters, Cavani proved his age should be no barrier to making an impact in the Premier League.

He is only the second player to be directly involved in three goals in a Premier League game after coming on as a substitute for United since Solskjaer scored four against Nottingham Forest in 1999.

United had started brightly and Mason Greenwood rounded Saints keeper Alex McCarthy, only to shoot into the side-netting with the empty goal at his mercy.

Fernandes needed treatment after a heavy challenge from Oriel Romeu, but he almost exacted immediate revenge when his deflected effort clipped the outside of the post.

Southampton took the lead against the run of play in the 23rd minute.

Ward-Prowse curled a corner to the near post and Bednarek got in front of Marcus Rashford to glance his header past De Gea from close range.

Kyle Walker-Peters nearly caught out De Gea with a low drive from an acute angle that skimmed across goal and struck the far post.

United were almost gifted an equalizer when McCarthy’s woeful pass was seized on by Greenwood, but the keeper redeemed himself with a brilliant double save, repelling the teenager’s shot and then blocking Fernandes’s follow-up.

Ward-Prowse doubled Southampton’s lead in the 33rd minute.

Taking aim from the left side of the United area, Ward-Prowse curled a superb free kick over the wall and past De Gea, whose despairing attempt to claw it out sent him clattering into the post.

David Beckham is the only English player to have scored more direct free kicks than Ward-Prowse’s nine in the Premier League era.

De Gea might have felt he could have done better having got a hand to it, but Dean Henderson made his first Premier League appearance for United when he replaced the injured Spaniard at half-time.

It was Cavani’s introduction that proved decisive after a curious late arrival on the pitch as he sorted out his boots.

Cavani linked up with Fernandes to reduce the deficit in the 59th minute as his cross reached the Portugal midfielder, who swivelled to fire home from 10 yards.

Since his United debut in January, Fernandes has been involved in a league-high 25 goals, scoring 15 and providing 10 assists.


Arteta eyes new signings as Arsenal shed fringe players

Updated 22 January 2021

Arteta eyes new signings as Arsenal shed fringe players

LONDON: Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is focusing on potential signings in the January transfer window after trimming his squad but refused to be drawn on a loan move for Real Madrid’s Martin Odegaard

Sokratis Papastathopoulos was released from his contract this week, while Mesut Ozil is on the brink of a transfer to Turkish club Fenerbahce.

Sead Kolasinac and William Saliba have already left on loan deals as Arteta seeks to re-balance his squad.

The Arsenal boss, speaking ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round match at Southampton, would not be drawn on reports linking the club with a loan move for Real’s attacking midfielder Odegaard.

But he said the focus would now turn to the entrance door rather than the exit at the Emirates.

“We are in that process now,” Arteta said on Thursday when asked if it was now time to start bringing players in.

“We have done the first part more or less and we are focusing now on the second phase.

“Obviously this market and the context makes it difficult, but we are looking at options and we will see what we can do.”

Arteta, whose team are FA Cup holders, said the departures had left his squad short in certain areas.

He said a left-back could be on the radar, with the decision to allow Kolasinac to join Schalke until the end of the season leaving him with only Kieran Tierney as a natural option.

“With the departure of Kola we are a little bit short with left-footed fullbacks at the moment,” he added.

Both Ozil and Sokratis were omitted from Arsenal’s Premier League and Europa League squads for the first half of the season.

Arteta had stressed several times he was unhappy with the bloated nature of the squad and feels the departures will help him achieve a better balance.

“We could not carry on with 31 players in the squad,” he said. “It is unmanageable. And when you have to leave some of the foreign players out, it makes it even  more difficult.

“To do it for a few weeks is OK, to do it for months and maintain the health, the ambition and the chemistry is really complicated.

“So one of the main objectives was to make some decisions about how we are going to offset that. We have done it.”