Southampton 1-2 Man United: Van Persie brace rescues poor Red Devils

first_imgRobin van Persie was Manchester United’s saviour as his brace secured a smash-and-grab victory over Southampton, with the Red Devils rising to third in the Premier League with a 2-1 win at St Mary’s.The visitors were far from their best, but punished Saints’ wastefulness in front of goal with two goals from just three shots on target in the entire game.Van Persie handed United an early lead when he capitalised on Jose Fonte’s howler, but Graziano Pelle soon had the hosts level.Southampton were the dominant force from then on but were guilty of a series of glaring misses, and the Dutchman made them pay with a volleyed winner with 20 minutes left.It meant Louis van Gaal registered a precious three points over former protégé Ronald Koeman in their first meeting in English football, as Southampton slide down to fifth following a third successive defeat.Van Gaal appointed the Saints boss as his No.2 at Barcelona, with the Man United boss later becoming his technical director during Koeman’s stint as head coach at Ajax.But that partnership ended in disaster, making the pair rivals ever since, and it was Van Gaal who drew first blood in the grudge match.All of Koeman’s evident preparation was undone after 12 minutes, as a blunder from Saints defender Fonte gifted Van Persie the opportunity to give United an early lead – a chance he took with aplomb.The centre-back’s under-hit back-pass allowed the Dutch hitman to dart in and slot simply past helpless goalkeeper Fraser Forster.United were then forced into an early reshuffle when Chris Smalling hobbled off with an injury, with Jonny Evans taking his place for his first top flight outing since the 5-3 defeat to Leicester.And Van Gaal kept the changes coming, with youngster Paddy McNair coming off later in the first-half for Ander Herrera, with Koeman seen mulling over how to best combat the attacking switch.The decision didn’t pay off, however, as Southampton were soon level after another dreadful error, this time from Marounae Felliani who had a shocker at St Mary’s.The Belgian carelessly lost possession in his own-half to allow Saints midfielder Steven Davis to drive unchallenged up the pitch, with the ball eventually bobbling to Pelle who fired home from ten yards to end a run of five games without a goal.At that point Southampton were good value for the equaliser, and their confidence only grew.Sadio Mane dazzled on the left with pace and trickery to boot, but the Senegalese forward’s final balls often lacked the finesse to really trouble United’s back-four.Nevertheless, the chances continued to flow for the hosts, who crafted a total of 19 efforts on goal to the Red Devils’ lowly five, but they were eventually left to rue their lack of clinical touch.Maya Yoshida saw a good chance go begging early in the second-half, while Shane Long was superbly denied by goalkeeper David de Gea, who flew across his goal to keep his side in it, and Pelle was later guilty of a horrible miss as he fired over the bar from close-range.And their profligacy was eventually punished by their opposition, who perhaps had a run of the luck when a Wayne Rooney free-kick floated all the way to the back post, where it was met by the outside of Van Persie’s boot, scoring the visitors’ second goal from only their second shot on target.The goal threw Koeman’s plans into disarray, but United were still indebted to the reactions of De Gea, who pulled off a stunning save from Pelle’s fierce drive in the closing stages to – deserved or not – make it five United wins in a row. Manchester United striker Robin van Persie 1last_img read more

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2020-01-06

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