Manchester United extended the club’s unbeaten start to the Premier League season to six matches by recording a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Southampton.
Romelu Lukaku’s first-half strike was enough to claim the away win for the Reds, who remain on the same points tally as rivals Manchester City, 5-0 winners at home to Crystal Palace.
The match kicked off in almost perfect conditions, as the Southampton sunshine beamed down on St Mary’s. There were few chances in the opening quarter of an hour, a long-range attempt form Henrikh Mkhitaryan being the only effort on goal and that was comfortably gathered by Fraser Forster.
United broke the deadlock in the 20th minute when Ashley Young’s left-wing cross found Lukaku, who was waiting in the six-yard box. Despite Forster producing a fine save from the striker’s initial header, the ball dropped kindly to the Belgian and he dispatched his second chance with an effortless tap-in.
Having taken the lead, Jose Mourinho’s men began to take control of the match, moving the ball around quickly and leaving the Southampton players to chase. At half-time, the Reds looked good value for the lead.
Mauricio Pellegrino’s side restarted the game well and their second-half improvement could have yielded an equaliser 12 minutes from time if Oriol Romeu had been able to steer his close-range effort inside the far post, instead of rolling it fractionally wide.
Southampton’s main focus of attack was balls into the box for Shane Long, although a combination of United’s Phil Jones and Eric Bailly remained resolute, managing to clear the danger well when required.
United substitute Ander Herrera had a fantastic opportunity to double the lead soon after coming on – Lukaku pulled the ball back but the Spaniard lifted it over the bar.
Although the Reds produced less of an attacking threat in the second half, a strong defensive display ensured that David De Gea was left without any major saves to make as the visitors sealed the victory. However, it was still a tense finish for all concerned and United manager Jose Mourinho was harshly sent to the stand by referee Craig Pawson in added time, apparently for stepping an inch or so over the touchline.
Southampton: Forster; Cedric (Ward-Prowse 83), Hoedt, Yoshida, Bertrand; Lemina, Romeu; Tadic, Davis (c) (Gabbiadini 72), Redmond, Long (Austin 83).
Subs not used: McCarthy, Van Dijk, Pied, Hojbjerg.
United: De Gea; Valencia (c), Bailly, Jones, Young; Matic, Fellaini; Mata (Herrera 62), Mkhitaryan (Smalling 75), Rashford (Blind 91), Lukaku.
Subs not used: Romero, Carrick, Lingard, Martial.
Booked: Young, Lukaku, Valencia, Herrera.
Lukaku’s strong start continues
It really has been a dream start for Lukaku at United and the stats speak for themselves. No one has scored more than his six Premier League goals in their first six starts for the Reds – the only player to match that is Louis Saha. He is also averaging a goal a game from his eight starts in all competitions and has scored in all of his last four appearances.
Young thriving at fullback
Having come in at right-back in the Champions League against Basel, Young has now played at left-back in the last two Premier League games and all three have ended with a clean sheet. Although Young is playing further back, he’s still been able to display his attacking strengths, getting an assist both against Basel and by putting in the cross for Lukaku’s opener.
Reds’ road trips
Five out of United’s next six matches will also be away from home, so Jose Mourinho and his side will be pleased with the promising form when travelling – from three away games so far, the Reds have kept two clean sheets and picked up seven points from a possible nine.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR UNITED?
United are in Champions League action on Wednesday (27 September) with a trip to Russia to face CSKA Moscow. The Reds then round off a busy month with September’s seventh match being at home to Crystal Palace next Saturday.
source : manutd.com