Friday, August 19, 2016

Friday Night Lights: Zlatan powers United over Saints

Manchester United 2-0 Southampton
After a 3-1 victory over Bournemouth to open the season, Jose Mourinho made his Old Trafford debut on the first regularly scheduled Friday night match in Premier League history. Paul Pogba was also making re-debut in a Manchester United shirt. There was certainly plenty to be anxious about in Manchester this evening.

Instead of Pogba marking his return to his childhood club, it was Zlatan Ibrahimovic storming out and conquering the Premier League early on.

United were much more aggressive in their home opener than they were in Sunday's first half. How could they not attack with full force with Paul Pogba around to set up Ibrahimovic up front. Despite their early aggressiveness, it was Southampton creating the better chances in the first half hour. Dusan Tadic came inches away from a tap in header. Shane Long blasted a shot into the side netting after a clever free kick play in the 26th minute. United's best chance was a Pogba shot that was straight at Fraser Forster in goal and a wild looking Zlatan overhead kick that went well wide.

That all changed in the 36th minute with a more or less harmless looking cross. Wayne Rooney found the head of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was quite a distance away from the goal. It didn't matter. Zlatan was able to blast home with his forehead for his second Manchester United goal in as many matches. United was able to open up some more exciting play after the goal, but couldn't find a second before the break.

The second half opened with Southampton having an early Shane Long goal disallowed for offside. Afterwards, United hit back and drew a 51st minute penalty. Luke Shaw was clearly tripped in the penalty area as he made an attacking run. Ibrahimovic made quick work of the penalty and doubled the United lead with ease.

Southampton's rare one and done chances were never going to get them back into the match. With United's increasingly defensive posture, their chances were limited and didn't exactly stress out the Red Devils back line. On the other end, quick attacks from United were often unlucky not to produce a third goal. In the end, it was patented Mourinho defensive discipline leading them to a 2-0 victory to open The Special One's home tenure.

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