Manchester United reignited their title challenge in spectacular fashion with a record-equalling 9-0 thrashing of hapless Southampton on a night of goals, red cards and yet more VAR controversy in the Premier League on Tuesday.
Seven different players were on the scoresheet for United as they ran riot after Southampton’s teenaged midfielder Alexandre Jankewitz was shown a straight red card after two minutes.
Southampton ended with nine men, as did Arsenal whose revival hit the buffers with a 2-1 loss at Wolverhampton Wanderers for whom Joao Moutinho secured victory with a second-half wonder strike.
Crystal Palace recovered from conceding a goal in the second minute to beat Newcastle United 2-1 at St James’ Park — Jairo Riedewald and Gary Cahill securing the points.
Like Wolves and Palace, Sheffield United also came from a goal down to beat West Bromwich Albion in the battle of the bottom two at the Hawthorns. Billy Sharp scored the winner as Chris Wilder’s side earned a third win in five league games having won none of their first 17.
United’s challenge had stuttered with a defeat by Sheffield United and a draw against Arsenal allowing Manchester City to move into pole position in the table.
Yet they responded in ruthless fashion to become only the third side to win a Premier League game 9-0, matching their 9-0 win over Ipswich Town in 1995 and also Leicester City’s away rout of Southampton in 2019.
They are level with City on 44 points, although City, who play Burnley on Wednesday, have two games in hand.
“We’ve been waiting for them to show the magic and it was a night for them to go and enjoy it,” manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said. “You get lots of confidence from a performance like this, scoring goals is always good for a team.”
For Southampton, who had Jan Bednarek harshly sent off in the 86th minute, it was a horrible case of deja-vu.
They held out for 18 minutes until Aaron Wan-Bissaka opened the scoring, and the floodgates. Marcus Rashford made it 2-0 and Bednarek’s own goal and Edinson Cavani’s effort made it 4-0 at halftime. Anthony Martial scored two after the break with Scott McTominay, Bruno Fernandes and Daniel James also on target.
What can I say? It is horrible but we stood up after the first 9-0 (against Leicester) and we have to do that again,” Saints manager Ralph Hasenhuttl said.
Arsenal looked on course for a sixth win in eight league games when Nicolas Pepe’s superb 32nd-minute goal rewarded them for a dominant opening at Molineux.
But seconds before halftime Arsenal defender David Luiz was adjudged to have tripped Wolves striker Willian Jose in the area, conceding a penalty and getting red-carded in the process.
VAR replays showed minimal contact at best and certainly nothing deliberate but Luiz walked and Ruben Neves planted his penalty past Bernd Leno to give Wolves a fortunate equaliser.
There was nothing fortunate about Moutinho’s 49th-minute winner, the veteran Portuguese sending a shot hurtling past Leno from 35 metres out — an incredible way to score his first goal in 61 home appearances.
Arsenal’s night went from bad to worse as Leno rushed out of his area and inexplicably handled the ball 20 minutes from fulltime — becoming the ninth Arsenal player to receive a Premier League red card since Mikel Arteta took charge a little over a year ago.
Arteta said the match had turned on the Luiz decision and confirmed the club would be appealing.
“If you want to talk about the decision, I have just seen the replay 10 times, in five different angles, and I am sitting here with you guys and I can’t see any contact,” he said.
“So I would like to see VAR have different angles. I am sure that they based the decision on something they’ve seen, but unfortunately I am sitting here expecting to see something and I am not seeing anything.”