Manchester United climb to third in the Premier League after Robin van Persie’s brace gave them victory over an often-superior Southampton at St Mary’s.
United took an early lead as Van Persie pounced on Jose Fonte’s slack backpass, but Graziano Pelle swept in a deserved equaliser as the Saints fought back.
Southampton had plenty of chances, but Van Persie guided in Wayne Rooney’s deep free-kick for the decisive goal.
David De Gea turned away a low Pelle shot as Southampton ran out of steam.
United’s fifth successive Premier League win came despite registering three shots at goal to Southampton’s 15, while the visitors’ occasionally shambolic defensive performance cast further doubt over their solidity at the other end.
But the mere fact of the club’s return to the top three for the first time since August 2013 will raise hopes they can remain there until the end of the season – the bare minimum requested by chief executive Ed Woodward this summer.