Belfast Telegraph

Southampton v Manchester United - Story of the match

Romelu Lukaku secured Manchester United a hard-fought victory at Southampton as Jose Mourinho's men managed to batten down the hatches after half-time.

Seven months on from edging an entertaining EFL Cup final against Saints, United arrived at St Mary's looking to maintain their fine start to the campaign against a team struggling for coherence and goals on home turf.

United were made to sweat as Mauricio Pellegrino's men launched wave after wave of attacks in the second period, but Lukaku's first-half goal was enough to secure a 1-0 win that takes them to a club record-equalling 16 points at this stage of a Premier League season.

Tweet of the match: "The joy of six. Romelu Lukaku has equalled Louis Saha for most goals in their first six Premier League games for Manchester United." - @BBCMOTD

Star man: Romelu Lukaku. The striker secured all three points by scoring the game's only goal and, on an afternoon when United struggled to convince, was a consistent and effective focal point in the final third. In the same way he contributed so much on the rare occasions his team threatened, he occupied Southampton's defence as they grew in confidence in pursuit of an equalising goal.

In with the crowd: Lukaku may have become the latest to discourage United's supporters from using the controversial chant anti-discrimination group Kick It Out have described as "offensive and discriminatory" but it has not stopped them doing so. The lyrics used reference the size of the 24-year-old's penis, and were sung again after his first-half finish gave United the lead.

Data point: This was Southampton's 11th league defeat of 2017, which equals their total throughout 2016 at a time when they are scheduled to play a further 15 fixtures. There is perhaps no finer demonstration of their decline under previous manager Claude Puel, which his successor Pellegrino is yet to arrest.

Player ratings

Southampton

Fraser Forster: 7 (out of 10)

Cedric Soares: 6

Maya Yoshida: 6

Wesley Hoedt: 6

Ryan Bertrand: 6

Oriol Romeu: 6

Mario Lemina: 7

Dusan Tadic: 7

Steven Davis: 6

Nathan Redmond: 5

Shane Long: 6

Subs

Manolo Gabbiadini (for Davis, 73mins): 5

Charlie Austin (for Long, 83mins): 5

James Ward-Prowse (for Cedric, 83mins): 5

Manchester United

David de Gea: 7

Antonio Valencia: 7

Eric Bailly: 7

Phil Jones: 7

Ashley Young: 8

Marouane Fellaini: 7

Nemanja Matic: 7

Juan Mata: 6

Henrikh Mkhitaryan: 7

Marcus Rashford: 7

Romelu Lukaku: 8

Subs

Ander Herrera (for Mata, 62mins): 6

Chris Smalling (for Mkhitaryan, 75mins): 5

Daley Blind (for Marcus Rashford, 90mins): 5

Who's up next?

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CKSA Moscow v Manchester United (Champions League, September 27)

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