Manchester United failed to build on their opening day demolition of Leeds United as Southampton earned a fully-deserved 1-1 draw at St Mary’s on Sunday.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side looked full of attacking menace and threat in that 5-1 win over Leeds, but here they were a pale shadow of that performance as Saints earned their first point of the campaign and even threatened to grab the victory.
Manchester United opened brightly and had a threatening spell after equalising but otherwise, this was an average performance from a side harbouring genuine Premier League title ambitions.
United grew increasingly sloppy as the game went on, the occasional moments of sparkle from Paul Pogba failing to compensate for the complete lack of inspiration around him.
United looked to be on the charge when Mason Greenwood’s shot squirmed under Southampton keeper Alex McCarthy 10 minutes after the break – Solskjaer then moving to punish Saints further by sending on £73m man Jadon Sancho for the disappointing Anthony Martial.
Instead, it was Southampton who created the best opportunity to take all three points as De Gea saved crucially from Adam Armstrong when he looked to poised to score.
United boss Solskjaer will be disappointed with both the performance and the result but this was no more than Southampton deserved as they bounced back impressively from defeat at Everton in their first game.
Southampton’s week brightened up considerably after that opening-day 3-1 loss at Everton when James Ward-Prowse, their most influential player, committed his future to the club by signing a new five-year contract.
And spirits will have been lifted even further by how they earned a point against big-spending United that was richly merited.
Southampton and manager Ralph Hasenhuttl, who greeted the final whistle with a fist-pump salute, will be very satisfied with the outcome and the performance, and he looks to have captured a real gem in 18-year-old right-back Valentino Livramento, signed from Chelsea for £5m.
Saints may feel they could have had all three points, but this game gave Hasenhuttl plenty to build on.
Elsewhere, Dele Alli scored his first league goal in 17 months and Harry Kane made his long-awaited return from his extended summer break as Tottenham maintained their 100 per cent start to the season as they secured a 1-0 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Alli’s ninth-minute penalty proved enough to separate the sides in a breathless encounter at Molineux.
The dangerous Adama Traore wasted the best of a succession of chances for the hosts when he was sent through by Ruben Neves, only to shoot straight at Hugo Lloris.
Tottenham, though, could justifiably argue they could have won by more.
Wolves keeper Jose Sa made four excellent second-half saves, including one to deny Kane a comeback goal.
It was a day to remember for new Spurs boss Nuno Espirito Santo, who was a hugely popular figure in his four years as Wolves boss before leaving in the summer. Now he appears to be bringing some stability back to a club that appeared in chaos for the last few months.
As he went over to the visiting fans to applaud them at the final whistle before giving his manager a big hug, Kane must have been quietly pleased at how the afternoon had panned out.
After all the debate around his future, fuel for which he provided with his pre-Euro 2020 interview, merely getting onto a pitch again will come as some kind of relief for Kane.
He would have enjoyed the experience even more had Sa not denied his close-range effort 10 minutes from time.
In shouting encouragement from the bench before his arrival and selflessly getting booked for time-wasting near the end, though, he at least proved he has Tottenham’s best interests at heart.