Manchester United fought to a goalless stalemate against Southampton at Old Trafford, with Scott McTominay called upon in the first half after a dubious sending off for Casemiro.
Casemiro’s boot went over the ball during a challenge on Carlos Alcarez, initially earning a yellow card.
Andre Marriner – the same official who had Casemiro sent off during the melee instigated by Crystal Palace earlier in the season – recommended that the Brazilian be sent off.
For ten minutes, Erik ten Hag tried to persist with the players on the pitch. But with the game becoming more open and United getting threatened through the middle of the pitch, more steel was clearly needed.
The Scot has had a mixed season, starting the campaign in good form before losing his place to Casemiro, and subsequently only really being involved either from the bench, or in United’s biggest defeats.
Today, however, he rose to the challenge of replacing arguably the best defensive midfielder in the world in a high-pressure match with his team a man down.
McTominay was diligent in defending his backline, making four clearances and three blocks to halt dangerous Southampton attacks.
He was clearly well up for the battle as well, winning a remarkable ten duels and making four tackles – more than any other player on the pitch, despite being on about half as long as most.
The academy graduate was also useful in relieving pressure, attempting two dribbles with a completion rate of 100% to escape pressure.
While a weakness in his game has always been his involvement in possession sequences (here he completed just 13 passes in midfield), for the game state that he was introduced to, he put in a performance that was just about perfect.
Until the introduction of Fred in added time, McTominay was arguably the only midfielder United had on the pitch, playing against a team deploying a 4-2-2-2 aimed at packing the middle of the park.
Scott McTominay had a difficult job to do and he did it exceptionally well.
All stats taken from SofaScore
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