Barclays Premier League
Southampton vs. Manchester United
Venue: St. Mary’s Stadium
Date: Sunday, 20 September 2015
Kick-off: 16:00 BST
Manchester United came out on top in a pulsating encounter at St. Mary’s Stadium, emerging victorious with a 3-2 victory against Southampton.
Graziano Pelle bookended the scoring on the south coast, but a brace from Anthony Martial and Juan Mata’s first time finish from a rebound secured the three points for Louis van Gaal’s side.
That’s now three goals in two Premier League games for Martial, on this his first domestic start, and he took his goals well, in a game that saw the return of Wayne Rooney from injury, and the importance of David De Gea to the team.
The hosts started the brighter with Dusan Tadic collecting Pelle’s cross from the right before shooting wide, as the former’s dangerous cross from the left two minutes later had to be dealt with by Marcos Rojo.
Then came the opening goal, with Sadio Mane finding James Ward-Prowse on the right, with the latter returning the favour with a delightful cross that was met by Mane, only for De Gea to produce a point blank save, but Pelle was on hand to tap home the rebound.
Pelle could have had his second just moments later, hitting the outside of the post with a precise attempt, as Memphis found Martial at the other end, only for the latter to slice the ball over the bar.
Matt Targett teed up Ward-Prowse whose effort was held as Pelle later headed over the former’s cross, with Memphis doing likewise from Mata’s cross at the other end.
United were level after an initial attack was cleared, only for ex-Saints player Morgan Schneiderlin to head the ball back forward towards Mata who was dispossessed with a perfectly timed tackle by Maya Yoshida, only for Martial to pick up the loose ball, expertly turn past Virgil van Dijk, and finish underneath Maarten Stekelenburg.
A succession of corners for the visitors saw one catch Southampton out, with Memphis playing it short to Mata, whose pull back found Schneiderlin, but whose attempt was deflected wide, with half-time coming at the wrong time for a resurgent United side clearly buoyed by getting back on level terms.
Nine months ago, a Robin van Persie brace at St. Mary’s secured the three points for United, with his first coming from a sloppy back pass, and the same happened again, with Yoshida’s poor awareness allowing Martial through on goal, with the Frenchman making the most of such a gift, and calmly slotting the ball into the back of the net.
Memphis cut inside from the left onto his right and drove a shot just wide from distance before De Gea somehow clawed back Jose Fonte’s header from a Tadic corner, when it seemed almost certain to find its way in to make it 2-2.
This was a big moment in the game, as less than 10 minutes later, substitute Bastian Schweinsteiger found Memphis inside the box, who again cut onto his favoured right, only to see his thumping effort crash against the post, but Mata was on hand to finish the rebound.
Van Dijk and Fonte were cautioned for fouls on Martial, with Memphis’ free-kick from Fonte’s foul falling over the bar.
United looked like seeing the game out comfortably, bossing possession and controlling the tempo, but Pelle’s unmarked header from Mane’s right-hand side cross gave the visitors a scare and more than nervy finish.
Another Pelle header from substitute Shane Long’s cross fell over the bar, with Tadic heading wide in stoppage time.
Victor Wanyama’s distant shot was tipped over by De Gea, with the Spaniard forcing Fonte’s header away before clinging onto Wanyama’s header from the resulting corner.
United held out for their second away league win of the season, responding from their last league outing away from home which saw defeat to Swansea, and also their midweek nightmare to PSV.
Southampton dominated the first third of the game, before an excellent 40 minute spell either side of half-time saw United score their three goals.
A shaky end caused anxiety, but a much-deserved three points on the whole, with the clinical nature being key to these past two league games against Liverpool and Southampton, scoring from every shot on target.
Ipswich Town will be welcomed to Old Trafford on Wednesday night for the Capital One Cup third round tie, before Sunderland visit the same venue next Saturday for United’s first 3pm kick-off of the new season.
Manchester United: De Gea; Darmian (Valencia 46), Smalling, Blind, Rojo (McNair 69); Carrick (Schweinsteiger 60), Schneiderlin; Mata, Rooney, Memphis; Martial.
Subs: Romero, McNair, Valencia, Herrera, Schweinsteiger, Young, Fellaini.
Manager: Louis van Gaal
Southampton: Stekelenburg; Yoshida, Fonte, Van Dijk, Targett (Martina 46); Wanyama, Romeu (S. Davis 56), Ward-Prowse (Long 76); Tadic, Pelle, Mane.
Subs: K. Davis, Cedric, Long, S. Davis, Rodriguez, Martina, Juanmi.
Manager: Ronald Koeman