Romelu Lukaku delivers again for Manchester United - Analysis of striker's performance in 1-0 win over Southampton

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Romelu Lukaku fired Manchester United to a 1-0 win over Southampton as Jose Mourinho was sent to the stands at St Mary’s on Saturday.

Lukaku scored the only goal of the game in the first half, but United had to survive a late barrage of Southampton pressure that played a role in Mourinho’s dismissal.

It was an indication of the visitors’ anxiety that United boss Mourinho was dismissed by referee Craig Pawson in stoppage-time, apparently for encroaching onto the pitch during a Southampton attack.

Here’s a closer look at Lukaku’s performance.

Basic stats

Goals – 1

Assists – 0

Shots – 3

Dribbles – 2

Passes – 19

Key Passes – 2

Pass Accuracy – 73%

Touches – 42

Aerial duels – 50%

Lukaku was a handful for the Southampton defence.

Lukaku was a handful for the Southampton defence.

Effectiveness

Two chances, one goal. It was an efficient performance from the Belgian striker, and in a game where Manchester United were increasingly under pressure, especially in a second half which Southampton dominated, his goal proved vital.

He made his presence felt on the defensive end and was involved in United’s two best chances in the second half – one of which, admittedly, he should have scored, or found Henrikh Mkhitaryan with a pass for an easy finish.

Lukaku should also have had an assist, as Ander Herrera blazed over from United’s other golden opportunity to put the game to bed.

The Belgian's first-half goal was the difference between the two sides.

The Belgian’s first-half goal was the difference between the two sides.

Key moments

20th minute: A vintage Lukaku goal. The striker rose above his marker to head a wonderful Ashley Young cross, and although Southampton keeper Fraser Forster made a solid point-blank save, the rebound came straight back to Lukaku, who wasn’t going to miss from close range.

65th minute: United’s counter-attack saw Mkhitaryan set up Lukaku and he should have made it 2-0. Mkhitaryan was probably in a better position to score, and Lukaku could have opted to play a return ball, but inside the box, a striker is well within his rights to shoot. Lukaku’s shot, however, was hit straight at Forster’s feet rather than into the back of the net.

79th minute: Another United counter and yet again, Lukaku was at the heart of it. He beat the Southampton defence on the left wing before finding Herrera with a smart reverse pass. The Spaniard was in acres of space inside the home side’s box, but his shot went over the bar, denying Lukaku an assist.

It's now eight goals in eight Manchester United appearances for Lukaku.

It’s now eight goals in eight Manchester United appearances for Lukaku.

Our verdict: 7/10

It wasn’t Lukaku’s best performance, nor was it United’s best. But this is the sort of game Jose Mourinho’s side need to win, and the 24-year-old ensured they did.

He got a goal, held up the ball well, created chances, and helped out defensively. Yes, he should have scored a second, but in the end United came away with a win that was largely down to Lukaku’s play.

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Romelu Lukaku makes Manchester United 'effective' and three things learned from 1-0 win over Southampton

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A solitary strike from Romelu Lukaku saw Manchester United sneak their way past Southampton in a 1-0 win at St Mary’s on Saturday.

Jose Mourinho’s had to struggle for their three points on the day and had some stellar defending from Phil Jones in particular to thank for their clean sheet.

Lukaku’s 20th minute strike secured the win for the away side but they were far from convincing.

Here’s what we learned from the encounter.

LUKAKU MAKES UNITED EFFECTIVE

United struggled to create chances on the day. Last week, the creative duo of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Juan Mata compensated for the absence of Paul Pogba’s ingenuity and drive from central midfield. However, both players couldn’t quite make it happen at St. Mary’s.

Fortunately, Lukaku hasn’t always had the luxury of their service and is quite accustomed to feeding off scraps. He made the most of an Ashley Young cross from the left flank, giving United the lead in the 20th minute.

Despite the lack of service, he was still United’s most threatening player, with all three of his shots finding the target. He also created a couple of chances, one of which Ander Herrera blazed over the bar when he really should have hit the target.

Lukaku on target

WASTEFUL SOUTHAMPTON

The Saints have been good in defence, as they were again in the 1-0 defeat but it’s up front where they need to improve or risk slipping down the table.

Opportunities did come their way with Oriol Romelu, Shane Long and Dusan Tadic all missing chances. They are desperate for a clinical goalscorer with none of Charlie Austin, Long or Manolo Gabbiadini stepping up.

They’ve now failed to score in four of their opening six games.

Oriol Romeu

Oriol Romeu

UNITED NEED TO STEP UP THEIR GAME

The common narrative from this result will be that of United grinding out a win like champions do when they aren’t playing well and how that’s the sort of thing that wins titles. However, Mourinho will know that his side needs to be better.

They’ve enjoyed a fine start to the season, winning five and drawing one, but they’re yet to face top six opposition. It leads one to wonder how they will cope on an away trip to Anfield or Stamford Bridge when they’ve drawn away to Stoke City and have toiled their way past Southampton.

 Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho

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Player ratings and round-up as Harry Kane brace sees Tottenham secure 3-2 win over West Ham

Tom Allnutt 23/09/2017
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Harry Kane celebrates scoring a goal.

Tottenham survived a late West Ham onslaught to emerge with a 3-2 win from a ding-dong derby.

Harry Kane scored twice in four first-half minutes and Spurs appeared to be cruising when Christian Eriksen added a third.

But Javier Hernandez pulled one back before Serge Aurier marked his full league debut with a needless red card.

Cheikhou Kouyate’s powering 87th-minute header then set up a thrilling finish at the London Stadium but Tottenham dug deep for all three points.

TWEET OF THE MATCH

STAR MAN

Kane now has seven goals in six Premier League matches against West Ham and the striker proved the difference again here.

He made a difficult header look easy for his first and was in the right place at the right time to finish off Dele Alli’s shot moments later.

VIEW FROM THE BENCH

This threatened to be a painful afternoon for Slaven Bilic when West Ham trailed their rivals 3-0 after an hour but a rousing finish, aided by the erratic Aurier, may have spared the Croatian some particularly difficult questions about his job.

Mauricio Pochettino might have his own grilling ready for Aurier, who could have cost his side an otherwise comfortable victory with his sending off. Aurier was dangerous going forward but defensively, he appears to have much to learn.

Slaven Bilic

Slaven Bilic

DATA POINT

Christian Eriksen has overtaken Nicklas Bendtner to become the highest scoring Dane in Premier League history with 33 goals.

RATINGS

West Ham

Joe Hart 6 (out of 10)
Pablo Zabaleta 7
Angelo Ogbonna 6
Winston Reid 6
Jose Fonte 6
Aaron Cresswell 6
Cheikhou Kouyate 7
Mark Noble 7
Michail Antonio 5
Marko Arnautovic 7
Javier Hernandez 8

Substitutes

Andy Carroll (for Antonio, 28) 4
Andre Ayew (for Arnautovic, 66) 6
Arthur Masuaku (for Fonte, 74) 7

Tottenham

Hugo Lloris 6
Serge Aurier 4
Toby Alderweireld 7
Davinson Sanchez 6
Jan Vertonghen 7
Ben Davies 5
Eric Dier 5
Moussa Sissoko 6
Christian Eriksen 8
Dele Alli 7
Harry Kane 8

Substitutes

Kieran Trippier (for Sissoko, 78) 5
Fernando Llorente (for Kane, 89) 5
Harry Winks (for Eriksen, 73) 6 

WHO’S UP NEXT?

APOEL v Tottenham (Champions League, Sept 26)

West Ham v Swansea (Premier League, Sept 30)

Provided by Press Association Sport

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