Djenepo magic leads Saints past Sheffield United

Joe Prince-Wright

Southampton beat Sheffield United 1-0 at Bramall Lane on Saturday, as a thrilling end-to-end game was decided by a moment of magic from Moussa Djenepo.

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In his first Premier League start the Mali winger, a summer arrival from Standard Liege, danced past several Blades defenders before slotting home the winner in the second half, as Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s Saints completed back-to-back away wins for the first time since March 2017.

Sheffield United had former Saints striker Billy Sharp, who came on as a sub, sent off late on as they huffed and puffed but couldn’t find a way past Angus Gunns and a resolute Saints defense.

With the win Saints now have seven points on the board and they are unbeaten in four games in all competitions, while Sheffield United are without a win since the second week of the season.

3 things we learned

1. Djenepo the difference: It is too early to say that Djenepo is finally Saints’ replacement for Sadio Mane, but it is not too early to say he will be a very important play for Southampton this season. He danced past several tackles after showing his strength to score a brilliant solo goal and that is his second stunning strike in as many games. Djenepo was the difference and for a Saints side looking to shore things up defensively, they have to make the most of their chances at the other end.

2. Saints still haven’t found correct formation: This wasn’t a great display from Southampton though. they looked disjointed as Hasenhuttl tinkered with the formation once again, with Djenepo, Cedric and Hojbjerg all looking like they played at left wing-back at times. Defensively Bednarek and Vestergaard have improved and one goal conceded in the last four games in all competitions points to that. But Saints don’t quite know their best formation yet, even though they are proving tough to beat.

3. Blades not sharp enough: David McGoldrick had some great chances and Ollie McBurnie had a goal disallowed as the Blades were blunted for the first time this season. Chris Wilder‘s side fly forward at every opportunity and gave it their all, but they just looked a little sluggish as Saints snapped into tackles in midfield and cleared crosses into the box. Sheffield United are a dangerous side to play against, but they didn’t have their shooting boots with them on Saturday.

Man of the Match: Moussa Djenepo – The winger has pace, power and trickery and looks like being a bargain buy at $18 million. Djenepo is 21 years old and has the potential to be Saints’ main goalscoring threat this season. Of course, he will be linked with plenty of big clubs if he keeps this form up, but right now it seems like Southampton have unearthed another gem.

Saints started well and Vestergaard got a header on goal which was saved comfortably by Dean Henderson.

A wild few seconds then saw former Sheffield United striker Adams smash a beautiful effort against the post and moments later David McGoldrick was put clean through but Angus Gunn stood his ground to make a superb stop.

The Blades finally got going before half time as John Fleck nodded over and they were causing plenty of problems down their right flank. However, Saints almost caught them on the break as Cedric somehow slotted wide from a great position.

In a lively first half Adams went close again as his header was saved by Henderson, then the Blades caused Saints all kinds of issues with their crosses into the box. Southampton continued to look dangerous on the break as Sofiane Boufal was set up perflectly by Moussa Djenepo but his tame effort was a huge let-off for the home side.

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The Blades thought they had taken the lead at the start of the second half but McBurnie was offside as he tapped home Oliver Norwood‘s free kick to the back post.

Saints improved as the second half played out with Boufal and Djenepo getting on the ball in dangerous areas in the final third time and time again.

Djenepo did the business as Boufal once again won the ball back, then Djenepo fought off a defender, dribbled past a couple more and slotted home superbly to make it 1-0.

Late on Sheffield United chucked everything at Saints with plenty of balls into the box, as McGoldrick smashed a great chance over the bar.

Substitute Billy Sharp was then sent off for a lunging tackle on Stuart Armstrong as the Blades finished the game with 10 men and couldn’t find an equalizer.