Sergio Romero made a series of fine saves as Southampton and Manchester United played out a goalless draw at St Mary’s.
Saints should have gone ahead within five minutes when Eric Bailly was adjudged to have handled in the area, but United goalkeeper Romero saved Manolo Gabbiadini’s penalty.
Bailly’s sharp shot was stopped by Fraser Forster, as the United defender created his side’s best chance of the first half.
Southampton forced Romero to make multiple blocks after the break while Anthony Martial hit the post from 25 yards for the visitors.
With Jose Mourinho’s side guaranteed a sixth-place finish before kick-off and one eye firmly on next Wednesday’s Europa League final, it always looked like being a sedate affair on the south coast and that is what transpired.
Saints’ stuttering home form
Southampton fans have only seen 37 goals at St Mary’s this season – only Old Trafford, with 36, has seen fewer Premier League goals in 2016-17.
But their terrible run in front of goal at St Mary’s continued – they have now gone 365 minutes without scoring at home – and suffered yet another miss from the penalty spot.
Romero pulled off a superb low save to stop Gabbiadini’s strike, as Southampton missed their third penalty in the past five games.
With speculation surrounding his future, Puel’s nerves would have been eased by a victory to tighten their grip on eighth spot.
His side host Stoke on the final day of the season on Sunday but could still finish as low as 11th. They are one point ahead of West Brom in ninth and Bournemouth in 10th. Leicester, who are three points behind, have a game in hand against Tottenham on Thursday.
But with a League Cup final appearance under his belt, the 55-year-old Puel could have done enough to earn another season at St Mary’s.
Mourinho sticks to his word
Under Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United did not finish outside of the top three in the Premier League era, but since his departure in 2013 United have not finished inside the top three.
It will also be the first time that current boss Jose Mourinho has finished lower than third in his managerial career.
Mourinho made clear in recent weeks that his focus is firmly on winning the Europa League and securing Champions League qualification next season.
Following consecutive league defeats by Arsenal and Tottenham, he made four changes against Saints with youngsters Demetri Mitchell and Scott McTominay included on the substitutes’ bench.
His side were once again lacklustre against Southampton and they would have slipped to a third consecutive league defeat had it not been for Argentine goalkeeper Romero, who is expected to start in the Europa League final against Ajax.
The one downside for Mourinho was that the sight of midfielder Marouane Fellaini limping off after 75 minutes.
Sergio Romero was declared Man of the match