Romelu Lukaku strikes twice as Manchester United beat Southampton

Romelu Lukakus late winner secured a thrilling 3-2 victory for Manchester United over Southampton at Old Trafford

Ole Gunnar Solskjrs 10th win in 12 Premier League games did not come without a scare Manchester United trailed at the interval to Yan Valerys stunning strike and had to overcome spirited resistance when Southampton fought back to 2-2 late in the second half but two goals from a rejuvenated Romelu Lukaku kept their revival on the road.

Paul Pogba missed the chance to give the scoreline a flattering gloss when he saw a stoppage-time penalty saved, though going down to four goals would have been very hard on a spirited Southampton. Romelu is a quality striker with a goalscorers instincts, Solskjr said. He knows what he wants to do and he has the ability to deliver it.

Lukaku nevertheless needed time to warm up. United began as if they intended to have the game wrapped up by half-time and Southampton were indebted to Angus Gunn for three saves in the first six minutes that prevented the home side taking an early lead. The Saints goalkeeper tipped a Lukaku shot round a post, did well to react to a cheeky attempt from distance by Andreas Pereira and then saved at close range from Lukaku again when the striker should really have scored.

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After surviving that initial onslaught Southampton began to push their opponents back and grow into the game, gradually asserting authority over a fairly callow United midfield. They could have taken the lead after 12 minutes when Jannik Vestergaard climbed unchallenged to meet a James Ward-Prowse corner and headed wastefully over the bar, and might have had a penalty when Chris Smalling got away with a blatant tug on Ryan Bertrands shirt.

In an effort to break the Southampton press Paul Pogba made a length-of-the-field break up the left, helped by Lukaku on the halfway line, but held on to the ball a fraction too long for his intended target Marcus Rashford to stay onside. Pogba was possibly at fault, however, when Southampton took the lead a few minutes later at least, there was no one in his position on the left side of midfield when Charlie Austin found Valery in miles of space.

Taking advantage of Luke Shaw backing off with his hands behind his back, the Southampton wing-back advanced a couple of paces before unleashing a ferocious shot that beat David de Gea from a good five yards outside the area. The goalkeeper managed to get hands to the ball but could not keep it out, only succeeding in pushing it into his top-left corner. It was the 20-year-olds first goal in English football and he is unlikely to ever score a better one.

When the already ineffective Alexis Snchez departed injured five minutes into the second half it appeared United might be struggling for an attacking replacement when the full-back Diogo Dalot took his place. The opposite proved to be the case. With his first touch of the afternoon Dalot produced a cross to the far post from which Rashford should have hit the target, and with his second he teed up Pereira for the games second goal-of-the-month contender.

Andreas
Andreas Pereira curls home Uniteds equaliser to make it 1-1. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

The midfielder made the most of the space he was given to beat Gunn with a rising shot from just outside the area for his first Premier League goal, but what was noticeable was that Dalot had produced more in a couple of minutes than the laboured Snchez had managed in almost an hour. Certainly either the equaliser or the substitution seemed to perk up the home side, for in another five minutes they were in front, Lukaku neatly eluding Jan Bednarek in the area to give himself room for a low shot beyond Gunn.

Just for a moment it appeared United might overrun Southampton as the chances began to pile up at the Stretford End, but though they were stretched the visiting defence held out until the next spectacular goal arrived, courtesy of Ward-Prowse. There might have been some doubt over whether Ashley Young actually fouled Stuart Armstrong to give away a free-kick it was more of a collision that left both players on the floor but there was no debating the accuracy and power summoned by Ward-Prowse to beat De Gea from outside the area for a second time.

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Were points awarded for the quality of goals Southampton might not have left Old Trafford empty handed, though in reality United are always dangerous in the closing minutes of a game and the visitors paid the penalty for a late lapse of concentration when Lukaku was allowed to turn on the edge of the area to take a short pass from Fred. Though Gunn was beaten for a third time, he did manage to keep out Pogbas penalty, awarded after Armstrong had fouled Rashford. Its tough at the bottom but the Saints contributed greatly to an entertaining afternoon.

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