Rooney gives Man United 2-1 win over Southampton

Manchester United survived a second-half Southampton onslaught

to win 2-1 and go seven points clear in the English Premier League

title race on Wednesday.

United fell behind after three minutes when goalkeeper David de

Gea was partly culpable for Jay Rodriguez scoring.

Even after Wayne Rooney responded with two goals in the first

half for United, De Gea’s goalkeeping remained a concern, looking

nervy throughout.

Southampton spent almost the entire second half in United

territory and was denied a point only by some desperate defending,

with Adam Lallana coming close to equalizing after De Gea spilled

Rickie Lambert’s free kick straight to him.

But while United is seven points ahead of Manchester City at the

top, Southampton is just three points clear of the relegation

zone.

A much-needed win, though, looked possible in the opening

minutes.

After an underhit and misdirected back pass from Michael

Carrick, De Gea failed completely to block, and Rodriguez stroked

the ball into an empty net.

Southampton’s problem was that despite the delirium, the team

still had another 87 minutes to get through against a side so used

to coming from behind it is almost routine.

Southampton never looked likely to manage it.

One excellent throughball from Shinji Kagawa was all it took to

slice through the visitors’ defense, allowing Rooney to charge

forward and equalize in the 8th minute.

Kagawa hit a post on United’s next attack and it took some

excellent goalkeeping from Artur Boruc to keep the hosts at bay as

returning Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck both threatened

danger.

Rooney’s 101st goal at Old Trafford came in the 27th.

When defender Patrice Evra climbed highest at the far post to

meet Van Persie’s free kick, Evra left Rooney with the easiest of

tap-ins.

But with United struggling to find its rhythm at the start of

the second period, Mauricio Pochettino’s team pushed forward in

search of a leveler, with substitute Lallana having a significant

influence as Rickie Lambert twice went close.

Amid the dicey defending that eventually heralded the

introduction of United veteran Rio Ferdinand, the most telling

moment came when De Gea spilled Lambert’s long-range free kick.

A gasp went round Old Trafford before De Gea pounced to deny

Lallana a tap-in, and sarcastic cheers when the goalkeeper next

caught the ball.

Briefly, United relieved the pressure, with Van Persie’s

goalbound header brilliantly saved by Boruc before the Dutchman had

an effort ruled out for offside.

But Southampton was soon back on the offensive, and United fans

were able to cheer something positive from De Gea – an excellent

flying save to turn away Lambert’s free kick.

Nemanja Vidic flung himself in the way of another Lambert shot

before Rooney, who finished playing on the left as defensive cover

for Evra, ensured Southampton’s final assault went nowhere.