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Southampton 2-3 Man United (FT)
Newcastle 1-1 Aston Villa (FT)
16.01 – Sky’s Gary Neville jokes that “he’s hoping for his best-ever performance at Southampton today”.
United have had a notoriously poor record against the Saints over the years.
16.10 – United have begun this match promisingly, exchanging a series of slick passes, topped off by an audacious Van Persie backflick that unfortunately for United just failed to find his teammate, allowing Southampton to clear.
Shortly thereafter, Van Persie is involved again, as a great ball from Michael Carrick allows him to chest it down and shoot narrowly wide.
16.22 – Kagawa is dispossessed in a dangerous area, and Puncheon’s beautiful curling cross finds Ricky Lambert, who jumps well above Rafael and heads powerfully past Lindegaard.
Great start for Southampton!
16.46 – Another excellent cross from Valencia finds Evra (of all people), and the defender’s header is parried away by Kelvin Davis.
Down the other end, a swift Southampton break results in Lallana falling to the ground on the edge of the box following a challenge from Carrick, but the ref waves play on much to the player’s evident dismay.
16.49 – HALF-TIME: Southampton 1-1 Man United
17.02 – Overall it’s been a highly entertaining first half, with some great football from both sides.
Southampton have more than held their own against their more illustrious opponents, and more than deserve to be drawing at the break.
United – as has already been apparent in other matches this season – look decent going forward, but at times far from assured at the back.
17.14 – Poor attempted pass from Kelvin Davis to his defender allows Valencia to nip in and cross for Van Persie, who finishes disappointingly.
17.19 – A Patrice Evra slip leaves Schneiderlin free as the ball is lofted into the area, and he makes no mistake with an excellent header to give the Saints the lead once again.
“I don’t know what’s happened to the full-backs today,” says a bemused Gary Neville.
Meanwhile, as I type, Puncheon almost adds to the hosts’ advantage, as his strike is parried away for a corner by Lindegaard.
17.46 – Great statistic has just been referenced by Martin Tyler – the last time United lost their first two away games of the season was 1973, when they ended up being relegated.
Something tells me a similar outcome won’t occur this time around.
18.07 – Game of the season so far? United would have felt it wasn’t their day when Van Persie’s poorly executed penalty was saved, but he showed great character to recover from that setback and proceeded to score another two goals.
And while the Dutchman will receive much of the acclaim, Fergie deserves a great degree of credit as well. Introducing Nani and Paul Scholes – and to a lesser degree Hernandez – helped turn the game in United’s favour.
Southampton, meanwhile, will be encouraged to an extent by this performance, but the type of sloppy goals they conceded also does not bode well for the remainder of the season.
The hosts were also quite poor tactically in the last few minutes – taking off their best three attackers, and adopting an overly negative style that ultimately failed to pay dividends.
18.21 – Alex Ferguson says that “when Paul Scholes came on the pitch, it changed the game completely”.
He adds that “his vision and consistency of passing” helped United gain complete control of the game.
He says all the preparation they did was on defending balls at the back post – yet they still conceded two goals from that area.
18.25 – Nigel Adkins says he “changed the front three to give us more energy” at the end.
He criticises his side for giving away “two free headers” from the corner.
He claims he is not too discouraged by the fact that Southampton are the only team without a point in the league.