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Match Analysis: Manchester United 2-1 Southampton

Sports Mole picks the bones out of Manchester United's narrow win over an impressive Southampton.

Manchester United edged out Southampton to move seven points clear at the top of the Premier League this evening.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side got off to a nightmare start against Southampton, who were looking to win for the first time in 17 at Old Trafford, when Jay Rodriguez made the most of Michael Carrick's underhit backpass.

United rallied and went in ahead at the break thanks to a pair of goals from Wayne Rooney. They couldn't move further ahead after the break and it was in fact Southampton who often looked the most dangerous.

Here, Sports Mole casts its eye over a tougher-than-expected 90 minutes for the Red Devils.

Match statistics:

United:
Shots 11
On target 7
Possession 50%
Corners 4
Fouls 10

Southampton:
Shots 21
On target 10
Possession 50%
Corners 8
Fouls 10

Was the result fair?

Not really, no. United bombarded Southampton after going behind and got their two goals to move ahead fairly quickly. However, Southampton were excellent in the second half and could have easily nicked an equaliser. Not many sides will have 50% of the ball at Old Trafford this season.

United's performance

Lacklustre. The hosts began sluggishly and were punished by Rodriguez before the game had reached the five-minute mark. They responded well though and took advantage of Southampton, who were slightly surprised to be leading at Old Trafford. Many would have expected the Red Devils to annihilate their opponents in the second half but that didn't happen. Robin van Persie did see a header wonderfully saved by Artur Boruc but the second half belonged to Southampton.

Southampton's performance

The Saints performance tonight will do wonders for any Mauricio Pochettino doubters. It was the Spaniard's first game in charge away from St Mary's and they don't come much tougher than Old Trafford. He might have expected to go in behind at the interval but the way Southampton played in the second half was a joy to watch. They continued to press high up the pitch and regularly tested David de Gea.

Sports Mole's man of the match

Rickie Lambert: The Saints' number seven has adapted to Premier League life brilliantly this year and he caused one of the Premier League's best defenders, Nemanja Vidic, plenty of problems.

Referee performance

Lee Mason kept on top of the match and brought out his yellow card at the right moments.

What next?

United: Fergie's men will look to continue their charge for the title when they travel to Fulham on Saturday evening.

Southampton: The Saints also have an away game on Saturday against fellow strugglers Wigan.

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Wayne Rooney taps in United's second against Southampton on January 30, 2013
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Live Commentary: Man Utd 2-1 Southampton - as it happened
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