Southampton vs. Manchester United
Venue: St Mary’s Stadium
Date: Saturday, 23 September 2017
Kick-off: 15:00 BST
Manchester United produced a hard-fought victory away to Southampton to keep the pace with neighbours Manchester City at the top of the table.
Romelu Lukaku’s 20th minute strike was enough to separate the sides as the hosts can feel hard done by after their second period efforts.
Fraser Forster comfortably dealt with Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s effort on goal before Nathan Redmond curled over in the opening exchanges.
Traditionally associated with wing-play and crossing, United took the lead when Ashley Young’s exceptional cross was met by the head of Lukaku, but despite a decent stop from Forster, the Belgian made no mistake from the rebound.
A whisker away from 2-0 went Marcus Rashford’s Cristiano Ronaldo-esque free-kick before Mario Lemina was fortunate to escape conceding a penalty after bundling over Mkhitaryan inside the area.
Mkhitaryan picked himself up to slide a pass through to Lukaku, but Wesley Hoedt sliced the low cross behind with Rashford lurking.
Former United hero Rio Ferdinand is about to take up boxing as a profession and his old club were certainly on the ropes in the second half.
Phil Jones headed clear to deny Shane Long a sniff before the former cut out Dusan Tadic and Oriol Romeu scrambled the ball wide from the resulting corner.
After a quiet opening 45, David De Gea gathered Redmond’s attempt with Long firing over later on.
Lukaku could’ve eased the visiting nerves but saw Forster deny his shot with his feet, as fellow Belgian Marouane Fellaini headed off the line from Romeu’s chance at the other end.
Looking for goal once more, Redmond was thwarted by the now busy De Gea before being beaten by Romeu only to thankfully watch on as the ball drifted wide.
A maybe he should’ve done better moment as substitute Ander Herrera fired over but United held on for the three points.
With goals flying in of late, Jose Mourinho’s side had to settle for a grinder of a win on the South coast, but these kind of victories are crucial in a 38 game season.
Solid at the back with six clean sheets in eight competitive matches will please the managing staff, with Lukaku making it seven in seven for the season so far.
This was the first of six away trips out of seven, with CSKA Moscow lying in wait on Wednesday night for the next round of Champions League fixtures.
Next Saturday sees Crystal Palace visit Old Trafford in a second consecutive 3pm kick-off before the international break arrives once more.
Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Jones, Young; Fellaini, Matic; Mata (Herrera 62), Mkhitaryan (Smalling 75), Rashford (Blind 90+3); Lukaku.
Subs not used: Romero, Carrick, Lingard, Martial.
Manager: Jose Mourinho
Southampton: Forster; Cedric (Ward-Prowse 83), Yoshida, Hoedt, Bertrand; Davis (Gabbiadini 73), Romeu, Lemina; Redmond, Long (Austin 83), Tadic.
Subs not used: McCarthy, van Dijk, Pied, Hojbjerg.
Manager: Mauricio Pellegrino