Anthony Martial’s brace grabbed the headlines in Manchester United’s 3-2 victory against Southampton on Sunday – but David De Gea’s performance at the other end didn’t go unnoticed.
Despite dominating the possession and controlling 59% of the ball, it was the Saints who had more shots on goal with eight efforts on target compared to United’s three.
Ronald Koeman’s side kept the Spanish number one busy at St Mary’s, but De Gea – whose deadline day move to Real Madrid collapsed at the last minute – rose to the challenge by pulling off a string of fine saves.
His instinctive stop from Jose Fonte’s header at 2-1 with half-an-hour remaining maintained United’s lead and had the ball crossed the line the game could have played out very differently.
Louis van Gaal was quick to heap praise on his shot-stopper and told Sky Sports: “He is the goalkeeper to do that.
“Also Sergio Romero has saved us in games, now David de Gea did that with a remarkable save from a header from Fonte.
“It was fantastic, therefore we are very happy he shall stay with us.
“That’s why we were very difficult in the transfer period for Real Madrid. It is not for nothing.”
De Gea almost kept out Southampton’s first goal after a superb stop from Sadio Mane’s effort before nearly getting his fingertips to Graziano Pelle’s rebound.
Two goals from Martial either side of half-time and Juan Mata’s 68th minute strike gave United a 3-1 advantage, before Pelle’s second with five minutes remaining resulted in a nervy finish for the Red Devils.
The 24-year-old then kept out a long-range strike from Victor Wanyama in stoppage time, which left Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher claiming the goalkeeper could be the difference if United are to challenge for the title.
“I think we’d all agree that we don’t quite see Manchester United winning the title this year but he can take them very close.
“If he had started the first four or five games that he missed, Manchester United would be sitting top of the league – that’s how good De Gea is.”
The win leaves United two points adrift of neighbours Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table.
While Martial’s man-of-the-match display suggests he was United’s best buy this summer, keeping De Gea from the clutches of Real Madrid may just turn out to be the best piece of business.
Image courtesy of Beanyman Sports, via Youtube, with thanks.