Ronald Koeman got back on level terms with Dutch rival Louis van Gaal, avenging their loss at St. Mary’s with a 1-0 win at Old Trafford that sent Southampton above van Gaal and Manchester United into third place.
Dusan Tadic came off the bench and scored the breakthrough in the second half as it appeared Koeman purposely shut down in the first hour to frustrate the home side, and then open things up from there.
The game started with Manchester United on top, but after a few half-chances, Southampton grew into the game and it became a physical and edgy midfield battle through the first half-hour, just like Koeman would have hoped.
Misfortune struck Southampton in the 20th minute as Toby Alderweireld, one of Southampton’s top young defenders this season on loan from Atletico Madrid, went to ground clutching his left thigh after a clearance, and amid sharp grimaces of pain, he exited. Florin Gardos came on to replace him in the back line.
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Manchester United had a big chance with 5 minutes to go before halftime, as Wayne Rooney weaved his way to the top of the box and laid off to Robin van Persie, but he scuffed the shot as he slid to ground, and Fraser Forster collected to end the opportunity.
No goals came from the first half, but that’s not to say there was a lack of quality. The finishing was poor, but both sides produced good defending and canceled each other out.
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After halftime, it was much of the same. After an opening spell which saw Southampton hold much of the possession and creativity, Manchester United shared the chances. Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, and Angel di Maria all had decent looks, but couldn’t produce the moment of quality needed. On the other end, Morgan Schneiderlin and James Ward-Prowse were influential but created little. The game finally saw Forster into his first action, collecting a ball down low in the 69th minute.
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That was a sign of things to come. Just a minute later, the opener arrived. Straight off the punt from Forster, Ward-Prowse found Graziano Pelle on the right edge of the box, and he slammed the post. The Manchester United defenders switched off after the Pelle shot, expecting it to go in. Instead, the rebound came right to the feet of substitute Dusan Tadic, and he poked home the opening goal pas De Gea on the ground.
Mata should have equalized eight minutes later after a cross from Daley Blind pushed Forster off his line. His palm fell right to Mata who flashed the shot across goal. He then had an even better chance from six yards out on another cross from Blind, but he inexcusably blasted it over.
United continued to pour on the pressure following the goal, but Southampton did well to frustrate the hosts. With the final whistle, United finished without a shot on target, and Southampton picked up the three points to jump the Red Devils in the table into third.
Manchester United: De Gea, Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Shaw (Blackett 64′), Blind, Carrick, Rooney, Mata, Di Maria (Fellaini 72′), van Persie (Herrera 61′).
Southampton: Forster, Clyne, Fonte, Alderweireld (Gardos 21′), Bertrand, Wanyama, Schneiderlin, S. Davis (Reed 80′), Ward-Prowse, Elia (Tadic 63′), Pellè.
Goal: Tadic (69′)