Manchester Utd 2 Soton 1
Manchester United 2 Southampton 1, Old Trafford, English Premier League, January 30, 2013. Premier League leaders Manchester United narrowly edged out relegation candidates Southampton at Old Trafford. Jay Rodriguez gave the St Mary´s side an early 1-0 lead after just three minutes of play, but two goals from the inform Wayne Rooney in the ninth and twenty-seventh minutes of the tussle respectively secured a close 2-1 home victory for United.
Manchester United were without versatile defender Jonny Evans and winger Ashley Young for the game, while Southampton had to cope without central defender Jose Fonte and striker Guly do Prado. United came into the fixture on the back of a comprehensive 4-1 FA Cup Fourth Round triumph over Fulham at Old Trafford where a brace from Javier Hernandez and a goal each by Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney had made it six home wins in a row. The South Coast club, on the other hand, had to settle for a goalless Premier League draw against David Moyes´s Everton at St Mary´s Stadium in their previous game. In the reverse Premiership meeting of the 2012-13 season, Manchester United had edged out recently promoted Southampton by the narrow margin of 3–2 in front of a boisterous and enthusiastic home crowd at St Mary´s courtesy of a spectacular hat-trick from newly signed Netherlands international striker Robin van Persie. Not surprisingly, The Mancunians were red hot favourites to defeat The Saints who had not managed to overcome The Reds at Old Trafford since the 16th of January 1988 when a double from Northern Ireland frontman Colin Clarke handed Chris Nicholl´s men a shock 2-0 First Division victory over a star studded home side. The South Coasters nevertheless started the evening match against Manchester United on the front foot, and the visitors from Hampshire took a most unexpected early lead when Jay Rodriguez took advantage of a defensive mistake from usually reliable Three Lions midfielder Michael Carrick and rounded Spain U21 goalkeeper David de Gea and calmly rolled the ball into the back of the empty net already in the third minute of the tie. A mere six minutes later, though, Manchester United midfield orchestrator Shinji Kagawa magnificently flicked the ball over the Southampton rearguard for the constantly dangerous Rooney to hammer it past helpless Polish shot stopper Artur Boruc and into the goal. And in the 27th minute of the first half, United ultimately went ahead as Patrice Evra headed a long free-kick from Van the Man back to the waiting Wazza who scored an easy goal from close range.
Southampton supremo Mauricio Pochettino decided to make a double substitution during the half-time break, replacing Gaston Ramirez with Adam Lallana, and Jason Puncheon with Steve Davis. And as the midweek tussle at Old Trafford proceeded, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson substituted Chris Smalling, Rafael da Silva, and Shinji Kagawa with Rio Ferdinand, Oliveira Anderson, and Luis Nani respectively. Then, with only fifteen minutes remaining of normal time, Manchester United had the ball in the net once again, but the goal was disallowed by match official Lee Mason as Robin van Persie was adjudged to have been in an offside position. And although the increasingly desperate Soton players pressed hard for an equalising goal during the closing stages of the clash, the away team finally had to accept a marginal 2-1 defeat. Lowly placed Southampton began the encounter with high riding table toppers Manchester United on a positive note with a string of perfectly good scoring chances coming their way and they surprised everybody, including their own supporters, by playing well and keeping the remainder of the contest reasonably close. But in the end it was a well deserved victory for Ferguson’s perpetual motion machine who managed to create more opportunities than the opposition. After beating the South Coasters, United were now seven points above second placed Manchester City, who could only manage a goalless draw against relegation struggling Queens Park Rangers at Shepherd´s Bush. Manchester United Team: David de Gea, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Danny Welbeck, Michael Carrick, Oliveira Anderson, Shinji Kagawa, Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie. Substitutes: Rafael da Silva, Rio Ferdinand, Luis Nani, Alexander Buttner, Antonio Valencia, Tom Cleverley, Anders Lindegaard. Southampton Team: Artur Boruc, Nathaniel Clyne, Maya Yoshida, Daniel Fox, Morgan Schneiderlin, Jos Hooiveld, Jack Cork, Gaston Ramirez, Jay Rodriguez, Jason Puncheon, Rickie Lambert. Substitutes: Adam Lallana, Steven Davis, Luke Shaw, Richard Chaplow, Tadanari Lee, Frazer Richardson.
Wayne Rooney Quickfacts
Wayne Rooney hit his first goals of the 2012-13 campaign in a 4–2 Premiership win over Stoke City at Old Trafford on the 20th October 2012. He finished the season with 16 goals in 37 matches.