Goalscorers: Eyal Berkovic 6, 83, Matt Le Tissier 35, David Beckham 41, Egil Ostenstad 45, 85, David May 56, Paul Scholes 89, Phil Neville 90 OG
Southampton: Dave Beasant, Jason Dodd, Richard Dryden, Claus Lundekvam, Simon Charlton (Graham Potter 70), Alan Neilson (Jim Magilton 75), Ulrich van Gobbel, Matt Oakley, Eyal Berkovic, Matt Le Tissier (Gordon Watson 88), Egil Ostenstad
Manchester United: Peter Schmeichel, David May, Gary Pallister (Denis Irwin 45), Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Nicky Butt (Brian McClair 17), Roy Keane (SENT OFF), David Beckham, Jordi Cruyff (Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 83), Paul Scholes, Eric Cantona
Referee: Jeff Winter, Attendance: 15,256
Manchester United arrived at The Dell in October 1996 off the back of a humiliating 5-0 defeat to Newcastle United six days earlier. Manager Alex Ferguson must have been shell-shocked after the scoreline at St James’ Park. He was about to get another taste of embarrassment. This result will remain one of Southampton’s greatest and one of Manchester United’s worst in the Premier League era.
This match was played six months after the ‘grey shirt’ debacle when Manchester United lost 3-1 and changed their away kit at half-time because Ferguson claimed the players couldn’t see each other! This time, he could offer no excuses. His team were simply outplayed and outfoxed by a wily Southampton outfit.
The scoring began in the sixth minute. New signing Egil Ostenstad forced Peter Schmeichel into a save. However, Eyal Berkovic was in the right place to smash the ball past the Dane on the rebound. United’s cause wasn’t helped even further when Roy Keane picked up a red card inside of 21 minutes.
10 minutes before half-time, it was 2-0. Berkovic found Matt Le Tissier, who had plenty of time outside the penalty area. He evaded challenges from Brian McClair and David May before producing a delicate lob over Schmeichel’s head. It was another amazing goal in the Le Tissier collection. The Red Devils’ did find a quick response this time. David Beckham’s trademark free-kick reduced the deficit but not for long. Right on the stroke of half-time, Ostenstad bamboozled May and then somehow squeezed a shot past Schmeichel’s defences at his near post. The scoreline was 3-1 at half-time.
Another five goals would follow in the second half. Again, Manchester United responded. Beckham’s free-kick was nodded in at the back post by May, who was making up for his own shoddy defensive display. Then, with seven minutes left, Southampton scored their fourth goal. Israeli international Berkovic crashed in his second goal of the afternoon with a venomous volley from the edge of the penalty area after a corner wasn’t properly cleared by United’s weary defenders. Worse was to come.
Ostenstad raced past May again and beat Schmeichel to make it 5-2! Paul Scholes did grab a consolation shortly afterwards but there was still time for a sixth Saints’ goal. Substitute Gordon Watson played in Ostenstad who rounded Schmeichel and found the net again, via Phil Neville’s despairing attempt to stop the ball. Although Ostenstad deserved his hat-trick, the records officially show this quite harshly as a Neville own goal.
Manchester United would lose their unbeaten 40-year home record in Europe days later to Fenerbahce but would claim a fourth Premier League title in five years. Southampton survived again and their fans will never forget the afternoon when the reigning champions were hit for six of the best.