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.
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.
United, who lined up with Wayne Rooney up front, went close twice in the first half, Anthony Martial dragging wide from Rooney’s pass and Henrikh Mkhitaryan drawing a low save from Forster.
Southampton did not trouble Romero again until the brink of half-time, the former Sampdoria man fielding a powerful drive from Nathan Redmond.
But the United goalkeeper found himself in the firing line early in the second half as he was successively forced into action by a Dusan Tadic free-kick, a powerful Oriol Romeu strike and a curling effort from James Ward-Prowse.
United’s next opening sprang from an unfamiliar source, centre-back Chris Smalling haring down the right and crossing for Rooney, whose lay-off was curled over by Juan Mata.
“We needed to be clinical, perhaps, but we played good football and had chances to win the game,” said Southampton manager Puel.