FA Cup - United scrape win at Southampton

Sat, 29 Jan 19:12:00 2011

Manchester United came from behind to avoid an embarrassing FA Cup fourth round exit, beating a spirited Southampton side 2-1 at St Mary's.

- 0

Sir Alex Ferguson's men looked destined to go out to League One opposition for the second straight year when Richard Chaplow gave Southampton the lead just before half-time.

But a much-improved second half performance saw goals from Michael Owen and Javier Hernandez take United into the last 16.

United lost to third-tier Leeds United in last season's third round, when Jermaine Beckford scored the only goal at Old Trafford, and a risky team selection by Ferguson meant they sailed close to the wind on the South coast.

United made eight changes from the team that won 3-2 at Blackpool on Tuesday.

Just as ominously - seven of the outfield starters were also in the side that lost 4-0 to West Ham in the Carling Cup, including the entire back four.

The first 45 minutes were uneventful, but it was clear that Southampton were a match for United.

The highly-rated Alex Chamberlain made some positive, pacy runs in midfield, Dan Harding got forward repeatedly from the left-back position and Rickie Lambert went close with some powerful shots.

On the United side, a three-man forward line of Michael Owen, Gabriel Obertan and Javier Hernandez left the midfield exposed.

Gibson was out of his depth. His venomous shooting cannot obscure the reality that he does not look a top class player.

Owen was peripheral in the first half but came as close to scoring as any United player in the first half, accidentally hitting the post with a shanked cross.

Anders Lindegaard made his debut following a £3.5 million move from Aalesund, just days after Edwin van der Sar announced he will retire at the end of the season.

It was the perfect opportunity for the Dane to state his case as Van der Sar's long-term successor, and he looked solid enough and could do nothing about Chaplow's goal in the last minute of the first-half.

The midfielder chested the ball down on a diagonal run inside from the right, and lashed the ball into the top-right corner - a superb goal.

A Ferguson rocket at half-time, combined with a midfield reshuffle, turned the game around. Ryan Giggs and Nani replaced Gibson and Anderson, giving United width and creativity.

Owen's equaliser came on 65 minutes following a cross from the otherwise disappointing Obertan. The ball appeared to come off a Southampton hand, but Owen did not wait for the referee's whistle, heading the ball into the far corner.

Fifteen from minutes from time, the comeback was complete. Owen intercepted a loose Ryan Dickson pass and found Giggs, who in turn played a through ball to Hernandez. The Mexican's first touch was not great, but his second had just enough power to roll in off the post despite a touch from goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski.

Southampton were physically finished, and the match petered out thereafter; United kept the ball for minutes at a time allowing no possibility of a late Southampton flurry.

Alex Chick / Eurosport

Not already a Yahoo! user ? to get a free Yahoo! Account