Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was pleased with the way Manchester United kept their foot on nine-man Southampton’s throat as Ralph Hasenhuttl reflected on an even more painful 9-0 loss.
A night that began with Alexandre Jankewitz being sent off within 90 seconds of his first Saints start ended with the Old Trafford giants equalling their Premier League record win against Ipswich in 1995.
Goals from Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Marcus Rashford set the ball rolling, with Jan Bednarek scoring an own goal before Edinson Cavani grabbed a fourth before half-time.
8️⃣3️⃣ special moment for me as a boyhood United fan, passing King Eric’s record. Loved it out there tonight, great team performance ♥️ pic.twitter.com/lhsuqCUEqU
— Marcus Rashford MBE (@MarcusRashford) February 2, 2021
Southampton kept the hosts at bay until Anthony Martial and Scott McTominay scored in quick succession, with things unravelling after referee Mike Dean surprisingly sent off Bednarek having reviewed his challenge on Martial.
Bruno Fernandes scored the resulting spot-kick, before Martial and fellow substitute Daniel James wrapped up a 9-0 thrashing against Southampton, who lost by the same scoreline to Leicester in October 2019.
“I thought they played the game properly because we had to,” Solskjaer said of his side.
“Sometimes when you play against 10 men they sit behind the ball, make it hard for you, break on you.
“We played the game properly, we switched it from side to side, threatening in behind, some good individual movement and crosses. We played it the way we had to.
🗣 Ole: "That was a night for Reds to enjoy."
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) February 2, 2021
“It came from them. They drove it on, the players out there. Harry (Maguire), Victor (Lindelof), David (De Gea), the ones at the back played the ball quickly.
“Scott played the ball quickly so we got into their half and last third and they wanted more and more.
“So, when you play football you have to make the most of it, it might be the last game you play, you never know. So, we played like it could’ve been the last game.”
The result saw United go level on 44 points with leaders Manchester City and dramatically cut the gap in goal difference.
Asked if this was a statement result, Solskjaer said: “What I liked about the performance was the hunger and attitude to do the right things and get better and better and practise good habits.
“That’s the only way we can improve and get better, do the right things.
“You see loads of things we’ve been working on, but we don’t want to be a team that you can predict. We want to be a little bit unpredictable as well.
“But that has to come from the players. I thought they were excellent, that the freedom, creativity and imagination was there.
“The performance was positive and something we can look at, but you have to think about them being down to 10 men but it’s never easy to play against 10 men, either.”
There was no arguing with Jankewitz’s red card but Solskjaer says Bednarek should not have been sent off for his challenge, which came at a time when injury-ravaged Southampton were already losing 6-0.
That red card was the catalyst to an almighty collapse that leaves Hasenhuttl picking up the pieces after the second 9-0 defeat of his tenure.
Ralph Hasenhüttl gives his reaction to tonight's game:
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) February 2, 2021
“We lost again in a horrible way,” the Saints boss said. “The same story, one man down after – this time was after two minutes.
“Then 90 minutes can be long in the Premier League. I couldn’t help them from outside because I had no alternatives, I had no (experienced) players on the bench.
“No alternatives in the defence to defender better. A little bit helpless.
“But in the end it’s a little bit different situation to the first time because we’ve played a good season so far and we are in a position in the table where we haven’t been for a long time.”
Hasenhuttl says teenager Jankewitz “knows he made a big mistake” after another gutting 9-0 loss.
“We don’t need this result to know what we have to do better,” the Southampton boss added.
“This time it’s a completely different situation, not that it hurts less. The opposite. It hurts even more when you get this result again.
“But, I mean, the team is a different one now and it’s the reason why we’ve played a good season so far, so let’s see how the season ends. Better than the past, I think.”