Anthony Martial scored twice on his first Premier League start as Manchester United recovered from one goal down to beat Southampton 3-2.
Martial showed incredible composure in either half to claw Manchester United back into the contest after Graziano Pelle had opened the scoring for Southampton early on.
Juan Mata added a third midway through the second half on the rebound from a Memphis Depay effort, and while Pelle’s second piled on the pressure with minutes remaining, the Red Devils held on to claim victory after their midweek Champions League defeat.
Louis van Gaal’s men now sit in second, just two points behind neighbours Manchester City in the Premier League table. Defeat leaves Southampton in 16th.
Last year it was Robin van Persie who scored twice in a narrow win for Van Gaal’s side at St Mary’s but now United supporters have a new hero as their £36million deadline day signing Martial continued his impressive start to life in the Premier League.
Pelle scored the first and last goals of the game but Martial levelled before the break and benefited from a lapse in concentration from Maya Yoshida to put United in front early after the break.
David De Gea, so nearly a late departure in the transfer window, also shone for United, with one save from Jose Fonte in particular key to the win.
The visitors started poorly as their defence failed to cope with the movement from Southampton’s front four and it was only a matter of time before they were made to pay.
The challenge for Daley Blind at centre-back was always going to come from Pelle, so good in the air, and the Italian got the better of their first aerial dual to set away a Southampton attack that ended with Dusan Tadic firing just wide.
Marcos Rojo did well to clear a Tadic cross away from the onrushing James Ward-Prowse as Saints started to turn the screw.
And it was from the very next attack that the home side opened the scoring as Ward-Prowse’s perfect centre was turned towards goal by Sadio Mane, with De Gea only able to push his save into the direction of Pelle who made no mistake in tucking away the rebound.
United were in no way a cohesive unit in defence and more sloppy play saw Pelle played in behind but this time his effort came back off the post.
Morgan Schneiderlin’s aimless header was collected by Mata, who was in an offside position, and as he ran into the box he was well challenged by Yoshida with the ball falling to Martial – who showed composure to control and finish well to level the game.
A short corner routine saw Schneiderlin get away a shot that was deflected behind as United began to enjoy a sustained period of pressure for the first time in the game.
Van Gaal’s side were ahead five minutes into the second half as Yoshida played a tame back-pass towards Maarten Stekelenburg which Martial latched onto before slotting home to turn the game around.
The mistake from the Japan defender seemed to breed indecision in the Saints back four and it was skipper Jose Fonte who was next to surrender possession – with Memphis Depay screwing a shot just wide.
Fonte came close to drawing the hosts level but his near-post header from Tadic’s corner was superbly pushed away by De Gea.
And it proved to be a timely save as United began to show that Van Gaal’s possession-based football does have its benefits as they kept the ball well and were soon two goals clear.
Depay found space in the box after the visitors had passed Southampton to death, drilling an effort off the post with Mata on hand to convert the rebound and all but kill off the contest.
Mata and Depay both missed the target with free-kicks won by the bustling Martial and the final four minutes was made more interesting as Pelle headed home his second after smart work from Mane.
With five minutes of injury time remaining there was still time for De Gea to again show why he is so vital to United as the Spaniard palmed Victor Wanyama’s shot behind for a corner while at full stretch.