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Saints draw another St Mary's blank following Gabbiadini penalty miss

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Southampton failed to score at home for the seventh time this season, thanks to Romero's penalty save

Southampton v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Manolo Gabbiadini's penalty spot blunder handed Southampton another home draw at St Mary's this evening.

In the seventh home game in which Saints have failed to register a single goal in the Premier League this term, they have now gone more than six consecutive hours without finding the net.

Italian Gabbiadini fluffed his lines just four minutes in, tamely hitting his penalty toward goal with Sergio Romero - brilliant on the night - saving well down to his right.

Southampton started brightly with Matt Targett - starting his first game following a long layoff - shank his effort over the bar following good work by Dusan Tadic down the right. Nathan Redmond should have done better, pouncing on some confusion among the Utd centre backs, and then failing to deliver the killer blow.

Then, just minutes in, the home side were presented with a golden opportunity. Cedric Soares' raking cross was clearly handled by Eric Bailly, probably just outside the box, yet without any assistance from the linesman referee Mike Dean pointed to the spot.

Up stepped Gabbiadini, recalled to the side after sitting out against Middlesbrough, who stuttered his run up and hit a weak penalty towards the left hand side of the goal. Nowhere near the corner and lacking power, it was pushed wide of the post by Romero in the Utd goal. Big opportunity missed, the third from the spot in the last five games.

Another potshot from Cedric aside, the visitors grew into the game. A mix up between Targett and Redmond let Eric Bailly in, who sold his defender a dummy and forced a save from Fraser Forster.

Oriol Romeu picked up his 12th yellow card of the season for a rugby challenge on Henrikh Mkhitaryan, before a fabulous piece of play from Wayne Rooney 14 minutes in deserved better. The Utd and England captain plucked a long ball out of the sky with one touch before setting Anthony Martial on his way. The French forward could only pull his shot wide of the far post when Rooney's brilliance deserved more.

Little action followed from thereon in during the first 45 minutes, with Cedric's under-lap and shot and Redmond's effort following a neat one-two both easily saved.

Saints started the second period very much on the front foot, putting in a series of excellent set pieces which United, and Romero in particular, dealt with well.

The first saw James Ward-Prowse touch it back to Tadic who rifled an effort towards goal - Romero punching it away with both fists. Englishman Ward-Prowse threatened with the next two, bending one in behind the visitors' defence and seeing another wreak havoc in the box with Romeu's eventual shot being blocked.

The Saints pressure continued, with several Romero saves resulting in corners. One fell to Jack Stephens at the back stick, but he couldn't connect cleanly with his volley and the chance went begging. Another came to Ward-Prowse, who curled an effort towards the top corner with Romero diving well and pushing it round the post.

A brief Utd fightback saw Rooney nearly Find Mkhitaryan in the box, and the England captain then on his own in the Saints' area. Crowded out, he fed Juan Mata who blazed his effort over the bar.

The the home side rallied again, with Redmond beating his man and dinking a cross over to Ward-Prowse whose shot was closed down 70 minutes in. Seconds later, Martial nearly stole the match, driving at Saints, opening his body up and curling a delicious effort onto the far post.

Southampton v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

The game petered out after that, with substitute Jay Rodriguez, possibly offside, collecting Romeu's pass on the half turn but lashing his effort wide from all of 8 yards with ten minutes remaining. A golden chance wasted, and the last of the game as Utd dug in, wasted time, and earned an uninspiring draw.

For Saints, Claude Puel did little to encourage the board to back him with yet another dull home game, even though his team had their chances to win it. They have failed to win against any of the top six in the league this year, and, after doing so well against such opposition in previous seasons, one wonders how the board will feel about that at the end of the campaign.

That said, Saints are eighth, and should finish there with a win against Stoke on the final day of the season on Saturday. That it will be the first time the club has ever achieved four consecutive top half finishes in their history, and there is still disappointment, shows how far the club has come in recent years.

Teams
Saints: Forster, Cedric (Pied 69), Stephens, Yoshida, Targett, Romeu, Davis (c), Ward-Prowse (Boufal 77), Tadic, Redmond, Gabbiadini (Rodriguez 62).

Subs: Hassen, Caceres, Clasie, Boufal, Pied, Austin, Rodriguez.

Man Utd: Romero, Bailly, Jones, Smalling, Darmian, Tuanzebe (Carrick 64), Fellaini (Herrera 75), Mata (Rashford 69), Rooney (c), Mkhitaryan, Martial.

Subs: Periera, McTominay, Mitchell, Carrick, Herrera, Lingard, Rashford.