It wasn’t the most convincing of performances from Manchester United this afternoon, but the 12-time Premier League champions narrowly edged out Southampton 3-2 at St Mary’s with a stoppage time winner from Robin van Persie.
Southampton took the lead in the 16th minute against the run of play and just after I had backed Manchester United to win at 1.51, when Rickie Lambert jumped above Rafael to head in Jason Puncheon’s cross at the back post.
A slip from Nathaniel Clyne midway through the first half allowed Robin van Persie time to chest down and smash home Antonio Valencia’s cross to level the scores. Expecting Manchester United to get on top and take the lead, the failed to do so as both sides headed into the break at 1-1.
In the second half and once again against the run of play, Southampton took a shock lead 10 minutes into the second half. This time Patrice Evra slipped to allow Morgan Schneiderlin a free header in on goal. He converted.
Manchester United forced Southampton to camp inside their own half for the remainder of the game. Particularly after Nigel Adkins replaced Puncheon and Lambert with Emmanuel Mayuka and Guly do Prado in the final 15 minutes. That came after Robin van Persie’s weak chipped penalty that was easily saved by Kelvin Davis.
Perhaps this was not going to be Manchester United’s day? Sir Alex Ferguson’s side never give up and Southampton were made to pay for the second time in three games as they once again threw away a late 2-1 lead to lose 3-2 to a Manchester side.
Rio Ferdinand’s header hit the post with 3 minutes remaining which allowed their most-expensive summer signing to convert from close range. And then, in the second minute of stoppage time, van Persie completed his hat trick, scoring his 100th Premier League goal in the process by heading home Nani’s corner.
A dramatic end to the game. Manchester United had been 50/1 to win with 5 minutes to go. Unfortunately, I wasn’t brave enough to back them at the time, having already backed the at 1.6 prior to Sunday, 1.51 minutes into the game and 2.44 at 0-1. Lucky? Perhaps.
Manchester United have now conceded 5 goals in their opening 3 games. 4 of these have come from crosses, of which 3 were headed in (the other lead to a Nemanja Vidic own goal). The other goal was Bryan Ruiz’s free kick rolled across goal and turned home by Damien Duff. It seems the Red Devils need to practice defending headers and balls from wide areas.
Against Southampton, backed up by Sir Alex Ferguson after the game, Paul Scholes turned the game around when he came on in the 61st minute.
“We didn’t start playing until Paul Scholes came on the pitch ~ I thought he changed the game right around”
Notably, Scholes completed 6 of his 7 long ball attempts. His overall pass completion was only 80% successful.
Manchester United’s 3-2 victory over Southampton was Sir Alex Ferguson’s 1,000th game in the Premier League and his 599th win.