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THERE was an injury-time plot twist at Old Trafford in the race to secure Champions League football next season.
20-year-old Michael Obafemi netted a 96th-minute equaliser for Southampton against Manchester United, having only entered the field of play with six minutes of normal time remaining.
The away side took a deserved lead on 12 minutes when Stuart Armstrong fired the ball past David de Gea.
But the Red Devils turned the screw and Marcus Rashford levelled the score on the 20-minute mark before Anthony Martial curled a delightful right-footed effort into the top corner of Alex McCarthy’s goal to give the home side the lead.
And just as it looked like United would finish the night third in the table it fell back down to fifth with a goal from Obafemi.
Referee Chris Kavanagh initially signalled for minimum of five minutes added time at the end of the game, however there was more time added following a clash of heads between Kyle Walker-Peters and Brandon Williams, the latter having to leave the field of play.
And with United playing the remainder of the game with 10 men having used all three substitute windows, the Saints pressed and won a corner. James Ward-Prowse’s in-swinger was flicked on by Jan Bednarek for Obafemi to tuck the ball over the line from close range with almost the final kick of the game.
“Ralph [Hasenhuttl] told me what to do and I was told to get in at the back post and thankfully I got the goal,” Obafemi told Sky Sports after the game.
“It’s what I’m here to do — score goals. It’s an amazing feeling. I was supposed to play here in the Youth Cup but sadly I missed it. I’m delighted to get the chance this time.”
And Hassenhuttl was quick to express his delight following Obafemi’s injury-time goal. He said: “I’m happy for him because it’s not always easy for him. He came in and scored a fantastic goal. I’m very happy for him.”
For United it was a missed opportunity to put pressure on both Chelsea and Leicester, the two teams currently sitting above them in the table, who both lost at the weekend.
And Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows it’s going to be a fight until the end to secure Champions League football for next season but believes his players are up for it.
He said: “The mentality of the boys has been brilliant. We’ve had a few setbacks over the season and this is another challenge for us. I’m very confident in the mentality of them.
“I’m very disappointed of course but you have to take the disappointments as well as the positives when you win games. The disappointment with one of the last kicks of the ball you concede a goal and you lose two points — that’s just part of football.
“We’ve learnt a hard lesson today, hopefully. But we’ll make it right, I trust the boys in that respect.”
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