Premier League: Juan Mata earns Manchester United a final-day draw at Southampton
Last Updated: 11/05/14 7:26pm
Juan Mata's sublime second-half free-kick earned Manchester United a 1-1 draw with Southampton on a day of potential farewells at St Mary's.
The hosts dominated the opening 45 minutes and Rickie Lambert put Southampton into a deserved first-half lead, with a Mata free-kick nine minutes after the interval enough to earn Ryan Giggs' side a point.
But, if the two clubs meet early next season, the chances are a number of the main protagonists may have moved on to pastures new.
With the managerial futures of both Giggs and Southampton counterpart Mauricio Pochettino unclear, it is possible two new coaches will be brought in over the summer - and for Saints their main challenge will be replacing a seemingly Liverpool-bound Adam Lallana.
Best of the game:
- Goal of the match: Mata's delightful free-kick was hoisted over the wall before it dropped under the bar and into Boruc's top corner.
- Pass of the match: Davis timed and weighted his delivery into goalscorer Lambert perfectly to take Ferdinand out of the game.
- Moment of the match: Lambert's elbow left Vidic with blood pouring from his nose in the build up to the opener and it took the United captain until after the break to calm down.
- Man of the match: Shaw was impressive in defence and attack but Lallana looked a cut above on what appears likely to be his final appearance for the club.
- Talking point: How will these two sides look in the same fixture next season? With big names likely to leave both clubs and perhaps two different managers, today's game preceded what is likely to be a summer of major upheaval at Saints and United.
The 26-year-old is reportedly the target of a big bid from Anfield and Lallana, who picked up both the club's fans' and the players' player of the year awards earlier in the week, once again showed how he can cut it against some of the best players in the league.
Giggs made seven changes from the midweek win over Hull for what will probably be his last match in charge as he recalled Nemanja Vidic for his final game.
But it proved to be a torrid outing for the man who will be lining up for Inter Milan next year as he and his defensive partner Rio Ferdinand, another who could well be departing Old Trafford, struggled to contain Southampton's rampant frontmen in the opening 45 minutes.
Nathaniel Clyne created the game's first chance as he crossed to Victor Wanyama who diverted the ball through to Lallana, but the Southampton captain could not steer a clever flick past David de Gea.
In front of the watching Roy Hodgson, Lallana then crossed for World Cup hopeful Luke Shaw but the left-back could only head onto the roof of De Gea's net.
Lallana was proving to be the main catalyst in the hosts' attack and, after profiting from a mistake from the unsteady Vidic, he bent in an effort that De Gea once again was able to gather, but it was not too long before another England international was celebrating putting Southampton ahead.
Vidic could only head a long ball into the path of Steven Davis under pressure from Lambert, who was then picked out to slot home his 13th league goal of the season.
United's players gathered around Mike Dean after the award of the goal as Vidic had a bloody nose after the clash with Lambert in the build-up to the goal.
Vidic's final game for United continued to go wrong as the Serbia defender was booked for hauling down Lallana after losing his own footing, with Lambert's tame free-kick held comfortably by De Gea.
The ever-busy Lallana came close to creating a second for Southampton with five minutes of the first half remaining but his flash across goal just eluded the head of the onrushing Davis.
Giggs reacted to a woeful first-half performance by replacing Shinji Kagawa with Michael Carrick and, after his side had started the second half on top, they soon drew level.
Danny Welbeck was bundled to the ground by Wanyama and Mata curled the resulting free-kick well out of the reach of Boruc.
The visitors almost took the lead moments later as Adnan Januzaj crossed unchallenged, with Welbeck only able to head over and, while Southampton continued to threaten, Vidic and Ferdinand were proving to be a much tougher nut to crack since the interval.
James Ward-Prowse replaced Lallana, with the Saints skipper receiving a standing ovation from the home fans in what could prove to be his swansong for the club.
Shaw, also linked with a potential departure after an impressive season, was the next to be afforded such an accolade as he made way for Calum Chambers with a little over 10 minutes remaining.
Those changes seemed to hand the impetus to United but, other than a late Welbeck chance, they could not muster a winning goal to potentially end the Giggs reign in style.
Barclays Premier League
Sun 11th May
Cardiff0 - 2Chelsea
Fulham2 - 2C Palace
Hull City0 - 2Everton
Liverpool2 - 1Newcastle
Man City2 - 0West Ham
Norwich0 - 2Arsenal
So'ton1 - 1Man Utd
S'land1 - 3Swansea
Tottenham3 - 0A Villa
W Brom1 - 2Stoke
Barclays Premier League
|4||West Ham United||9||16|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||9||10|
|19||Queens Park Rangers||9||7|
Southampton v Man Utd
Juan Mata is confident that Manchester United will be challenging for the Premier League title again next term.
Soccer Saturday pundit Paul Merson says that Manchester United must perform a lot better if they are to challenge next season.
Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino says he is happy with his side's season and hailed the fans' support this season.