Southampton 2-3 Manchester United: Instrumental Cavani inspires comeback
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The introduction of Edinson Cavani proved a masterful one for Manchester United as they fought back to win 3-2 at Southampton.

Edinson Cavani inspired a superb turnaround as Manchester United came from two behind to beat Southampton 3-2.

Jan Bednarek's header and a trademark free-kick from James Ward-Prowse had put Southampton in command at St Mary's Stadium.

But the introduction of Cavani for the second half proved a masterstroke by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer that paid initial dividends in the 59th minute when he teed up Bruno Fernandes to halve the deficit.

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He then met the midfielder's deflected shot with a diving header to equalise and had the crucial final say when he diverted Marcus Rashford's cross beyond Alex McCarthy in the 92nd minute, securing a record eighth successive Premier League away win for United.

United should have been ahead in the seventh minute when Alex Telles played Mason Greenwood through after poor defending from Jannik Vestergaard, however, the striker could only hit the side-netting after rounding McCarthy.

The visitors were in the ascendancy early on but went behind against the run of play as Bednarek glanced home an excellent corner to the near-post from Ward-Prowse.

Kyle Walker-Peters then saw an effort deflected onto the left-hand post before McCarthy atoned for his own error to prevent Fernandes from finding an equaliser.

Another pinpoint set-piece from Ward-Prowse punished United for their failure to take that chance to restore parity, his ninth goal from a direct free-kick in the Premier League squeaking inside the near-post despite David de Gea getting a hand to it.

De Gea then denied Moussa Djenepo after a quick break but received treatment having appeared to injure himself when he clattered into the post in a vain attempt to keep out Ward-Prowse's free-kick and was eventually replaced by Dean Henderson after half-time.

Cavani also entered the fray and had the desired impact as he picked out Fernandes to convert on the turn.

Fifteen minutes later Cavani levelled matters with a show of clinical finishing that he repeated in injury time as he stooped to head home Rashford's delivery and send United seventh in the table.

 

What does it mean? – United's road warriors close on top four

United are the first team in Premier League history to win four consecutive away games despite falling behind in each. This most recent show of resolve moves them just two points behind fourth-placed Leicester City, who face Fulham on Monday, and a point adrift of Southampton in fifth.

Cavani replicates his boss

With his superb second half, Cavani became only the second player to be directly involved in three goals in a Premier League game after coming on as a substitute for the Red Devils. The only other United player to achieve that feat was Solskjaer, who famously scored four off the bench against Nottingham Forest in 1999.

United won the treble that season and, though the prospects of them doing so this campaign appear slim, Cavani maintaining that kind of form would be hugely important for a team whose young strikers lacked cutting edge on Sunday.

Walker-Peters woe

Southampton looked shaky at the back throughout and Walker-Peters was a key part of that. He lost possession 23 times, more than any other Saints player. His opposite full-back, Ryan Bertrand (20), was second.

Key Opta facts

- Manchester United are the first side in Premier League history to win four consecutive away games despite trailing in each.
- United have also won eight consecutive top-flight away games for the first time in their history.
- Southampton have dropped 25 points from winning positions in the Premier League since the start of last season, second only to West Ham (31).
- Edinson Cavani is only the second player to both score and assist a goal after coming on as a substitute in an away Premier League for Manchester United, after Ruud van Nistelrooy against Charlton Athletic in September 2002.
- Bruno Fernandes is the fourth United player to score in five consecutive away games in the Premier League after Van Nistelrooy (2002 and 2003), Robin van Persie (2013) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (2017).

What's next?

United host Cavani's former team Paris Saint-Germain in a critical Champions League clash on Wednesday before visiting West Ham three days later. Southampton visit Brighton two days later.

 

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