Robin van Persie double sends Manchester United third

Robin van Persie scored twice for Manchester United as they beat Southampton 2-1 to climb up to third place in the Premier League.

Southampton started the game strongly and Shane Long threatened early on with a looping header that went just over the bar.

However, the Saints found themselves behind in the 12th minute when Van Persie latched onto Jose Fonte’s poor back pass and calmly slotted past Fraser Forster.

The hosts responded well to that setback and they drew level just past the half-hour mark as Graziano Pelle fired home from close range, after Dusan Tadic’s shot had been blocked.

They almost grabbed a second moments later when a poor clearance from Paddy McNair dropped kindly inside the box to Long, but the striker lashed his effort over the bar.

On the stroke of half time Van Persie worked some room on the edge of the box and bent an effort into the side netting as the teams went into the break on level terms.

Southampton began the second half on the front foot and within minutes of the restart David de Gea was forced into action to block Long’s header.

Pelle then had an opportunity to score his second of the match after being slipped through by Tadic, but he couldn’t keep his strike under the bar.

United were struggling to create any real chances of note, but they retook the lead in the 71st minute when Van Persie touched in Wayne Rooney’s deep free kick at the back post.

Ronald Koeman’s side looked to hit back quickly for the second time and Pelle saw a fierce low drive across goal turned behind by De Gea.

They continued to push for an equaliser and Nathaniel Clyne sent a rasping drive just wide of the post with the keeper at full stretch.

It proved to be as close as they would come, as United held on to claim the three points and extend their winning run in the league to five games.