Southampton 0-1 Man Utd: Romelu Lukaku's first-half strike earns visitors win
By Gerard Brand
Last Updated: 24/09/17 7:17am
Romelu Lukaku continued his fine goalscoring form for Manchester United to give them a hard-fought 1-0 victory at Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday.
Lukaku scored his eighth goal in eight games for United after 20 minutes, converting a rebound after his initial header was saved by Fraser Forster.
Saints piled on the pressure in the second half, going close through Oriol Romeu on two occasions, and Jose Mourinho was sent to the stands in the final minute of stoppage-time for venturing onto the pitch, but United held on for a vital three points.
Southampton: Forster (6), Soares (6), Yoshida (6), Hoedt (6), Bertrand (6), Davis (6), Romeu (6), Redmond (6), Lemina (7), Tadic (6), Long (6)
Subs: Gabbiadini (6), Austin (NA), Ward-Prowse (NA)
Man Utd: De Gea (6), Valencia (6), Jones (8), Bailly (7), Young (7), Fellaini (7), Matic (7), Mata (6), Mkhitaryan (6), Rashford (7), Lukaku (7)
Subs: Smalling (6), Herrera (6), Blind (NA)
Man of the match: Phil Jones
The result means United stay second on goal difference behind Manchester City, while Saints are down to 11th.
New Saints owner Gao Jisheng was in the stands for the first time since buying an 80 per cent stake in the club in August, and witnessed a first half lacking in chances.
United took the lead midway through the half through Lukaku, who struck home on the rebound from four yards after his initial header from Ashley Young's fine cross was saved by Forster.
Both sides were unchanged following victories last weekend, with Marouane Fellaini starting for United and Virgil van Dijk remaining on the bench for Southampton.
Marcus Rashford hit a 25-yard free-kick inches wide later in the half, but Saints came out fighting in the second period, with Romeu sliding the ball wide from six yards under pressure from the impressive Phil Jones.
Forster saved with his feet from Lukaku's low effort during one of United's rare second-half attacks, before Marouane Fellaini cleared off the line from Romeu's header.
Ander Herrera then blazed over for United while Romeu slid the ball just wide from an angle late on, and United defended well in stoppage time to earn the win.
Mourinho was sent off by referee Craig Pawson late in stoppage time for venturing onto the field of play, but the Portuguese boss left quietly, shaking hands with all Saints' staff before heading down the tunnel.
- Sixteen points from their opening six games is Manchester United's best start to a Premier League season since 2011/12.
- Saints have failed to score in eight of their last nine home Premier League games, with their 3-2 win against West Ham this season the exception
- Romelu Lukaku has scored six goals in his six Premier League games this season - Louis Saha is the only other player to have scored as many goals in his first six games for Manchester United in the competition.
- Southampton have lost 11 Premier League games in 2017 - as many as they'd lost in 2016, with 15 matches still to play this year.
Mauricio Pellegrino: "For me, I think we controlled the game, and never allowed them to play on the counter attack, something they are good at with pace in wide areas. Even with the long ball to Lukaku and Fellaini, I think they were under pressure all the time.
"But with this goal, they felt comfortable defending with five defenders, but that's football too."
Jose Mourinho: "It's not always possible to have high quality, but we fought hard. We fought hard. We did for 20-25 minutes what many teams in the Premier League do for 90 minutes, which is play with five at the back and defend with a low block.
"Marcus [Rashford] was phenomenal, he was phenomenal. Cedric Soares is a very good offensive full back, and James Ward-Prowse is a good crosser of the ball, so it was a good side, and Marcus felt what everybody else felt in the team, if we don't concede we win three points, so let's fight hard not to concede."
Man of the match - Phil Jones
Many thought Victor Lindelof's summer arrival at Old Trafford would mean we'd see less of Jones this season, but the England man put in a superb shift at St Mary's to give United a hard-earned three points.
Southampton huffed and puffed throughout an intense second half, but Jones, alongside Eric Bailly, did everything they could to keep the hosts out. He won all 10 of his duels, didn't concede a single foul, made more clearances than any other United player and registered over 90 per cent passing accuracy.
While Lindelof remains on the fringes of the side, there's no need to rush him in just yet with Jones performing impressively so far this season.
United go to Moscow on Wednesday night to face CSKA in the Champions League, before hosting Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon. Saints are at Stoke on Saturday in the Premier League.
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