SOUTHAMPTON: Sergio Romero displayed some eye-catching pre-Europa League final form by saving a penalty as Manchester United drew 0-0 at Southampton in their penultimate Premier League game on Wednesday.
United manager Jose Mourinho has confirmed Romero will start against Ajax in Stockholm next Wednesday and his early save from Manolo Gabbiadini helped the visitors stop the rot after successive losses to Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.
The Argentina international, deputising for the rested David de Gea, also produced a string of saves early in the second half at St Mary’s to keep Claude Puel’s Southampton at bay.
“We played a good team, a team who tried to win and tried to finish well. I think we did more than OK,” Mourinho said.
“Sergio had a very good performance, more than very good. The team wasn’t perfect, but individually they gave me good things. They showed me they want to be an option for the final.” The result had no material impact on United’s season, given they were already guaranteed to finish sixth, and means Mourinho’s men have now drawn 15 times this season.
Mourinho is also guaranteed to finish his first United season with fewer league victories than either of his two maligned predecessors, David Moyes and Louis van Gaal, mustered in the previous three seasons.
Southampton have now gone four top-flight home games without scoring for the first time and remain eighth, which is the highest position they can hope to achieve ahead of Sunday’s final game at home to Stoke City.
The game was only five minutes old when an impulsive decision by Eric Bailly, and some generous officiating, gifted Southampton a chance to go ahead.
After sizing up Cedric’s crossfield pass as it sailed towards him, Bailly inexplicably chose to control it using his upper left arm and although he was outside the box, referee Mike Dean pointed to the spot.
Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2017