Manchester United finish with draw against Southampton

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Manchester United's worst ever Premier League campaign ended in suitably humble fashion as the reigning champions recorded a 1-1 draw with Southampton at St Mary's.

A sensational free-kick from Juan Mata soon after the interval cancelled out Rickie Lambert's controversial first-half opener after Mike Dean failed to spot the Saints striker's flailing arm catch defender Nemanja Vidic square in the face in the build up to the goal.

The visitors surrounded the referee in the middle to dispute the earlier foul as the pair came together whilst contesting a header 30 yards from goal, but Dean waved away their protests.

Vidic fell to the ground clutching his nose as the ball fell kindly to Steven Davis who played in the Saints striker on the edge of the box.

Lambert kept his composure and slotted comfortably past the helpless David De Gea at his near post in front of the watching England manager Roy Hodgson less than 24 hours before he announces his 23-man squad for the Word Cup in Brazil.

It was a jovial 31,372 capacity crowd at St Mary's, celebrating the south coast club's highest ever points tally in the Premier League, with the home fans also potentially bidding farewell to star players Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw.

The Three Lions hopefuls have been the subject of widespread transfer speculation in recent months and could leave the club this summer. Both were substituted midway through the second half by manager Mauricio Pochettino and came off to rapturous applause from their supporters.

There are also question marks surrounding the long-term future of the Argentine coach, with one year remaining on his contract at Southampton he has been heavily linked with the soon-to-be-vacant position at Tottenham Hotspur.

The fact that neither side had anything to play for was evident from the first whistle, with seventh placed Manchester United happy to let Spurs claim the final Europa League spot, and eighth placed Southampton unable to catch the visitors even with victory on the final day.

Lallana had the home crowd purring following a brilliant piece of ingenuity almost gave Southampton the lead, but his clever flick from a low-drilled Victor Wanyama shot fell comfortably into the hands of De Gea.

Later, a neat interchange between Shaw and Lallana down the left presented the teenage full-back with an opportunity to break his goalscoring duck. His marauding run down the left carried him all the way into the box, and after laying the ball off for Lallana his captain responded with a perfectly weighted cross that was headed over by the 18-year-old. 

Vidic picked up the first booking of the game when trying to dish out some retribution on Lambert, the man responsible for bloodying the Serbian centre-back's nose on his final appearance for the Red Devils.

As the half-time whistle blew Saints fans chanted "Are you gonna change your kit" at Manchester United supporters following a disappointing first-half display, making reference to the time Sir Alex Ferguson blamed his side's shirt colour for a poor showing at The Dell.

However, it wasn't long before the travelling contingent responded with a song of their own after Mata scored a wonderful free-kick to restore parity less than 10 minutes after the restart.

A clumsy foul by Victor Wanyama on Danny Welbeck 20 yards from goal presented the Spaniard with a perfect opportunity to curl a left-footed effort round the Southampton wall and into the top right corner past the helpless Artur Boruc.

After the equaliser both sides seemed pretty happy to play out the remaining minutes of the 2013/14 campaign at a canter. Saints reflecting on their best ever showing, Manchester United their worst.

Southampton: Boruc; Clyne, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw (Chambers , Cork (Gallagher 59), Wanyama, Schneiderlin; Davis, Lallana (Ward-Prowse 70), Lambert.

Subs not used: Gazzaniga, Hooiveld, Reed, Guly.

Manchester United: De Gea; Smalling, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Januzaj, Fletcher, Kagawa (Carrick 46), Welbeck, Mata; Van Persie (Hernandez 68).

Subs: Amos, Cleverley, Lawrence, Young, Valencia.

Venue: St Mary's

Referee: Mike Dean

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