The Argentine, handed a place in the starting XI over David de Gea in preparation for next week’s Europa League final, kept the game scoreless with a sensational save from Manolo Gabbiadini’s penalty after five minutes.
He then went on to produce an array of fine stops, including one the claw out an Oriol Romeu pile-driver destined for the top corner, to claim his 11th clean sheet of the season.
And Mourinho, speaking after the game, was full of praise for the 30-year-old in light of what was a fine display between the sticks.
“We played a good team, a team who tried to win and tried to finish well. I think we did more than ok,” he said.
“I think all of them gave me positive feelings. 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.”
Most penalties are stopped because they are poorly taken, rather than expertly saved, I’d say. Sorry if you’re a goalkeeper and feel offended by that but, well, it’s the truth, and you were probably the last to get picked as a child, weren’t you?
This save from Gabbiadini, however, was truly special. The Italian hit the strike sweetly, powering the ball hard and low and inexorably towards the bottom left corner, only for the hand of Romero to somehow palm it away. It is one thing to guess which way the ball is going; stopping it from flying past you is quite another.
That was just the start: Southampton were by far the more innovative team in the second half and, if it wasn’t for Romero’s continued brilliance, would have condemned the visitors to a third straight league defeat.