Romelu Lukaku came to the rescue for depleted Manchester United with his second-half brace in the rollercoaster 3-2 win against Southampton that featured a feast of outstanding goals.
French right-back Yan Valery produced a howitzer of a drive from 25 yards that flew through Spain goalkeeper David De Gea’s fingertips to give the visitors a 26th-minute lead. United’s response, after defenders Chris Smalling and Ashley Young were fortunate not to concede penalties, came after the interval.
Brazil midfielder Andres Pereira deftly curled in from 30 yards and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku artfully found the bottom corner to make it 2-1 before the hour mark. Ex-England Under-21 midfielder Andrew Ward-Prowse, however, produced a trademark free-kick to level things up on 75 minutes.
United needed a hero and Lukaky duly responded with only two minutes of regulation time left when he blasted a low shot home from the edge of the penalty box. There was also time for France superstar Paul Pogba to miss a spot-kick before the final whistle that heralded the hosts’ return to the top four.
Here are the United player ratings from Old Trafford:
MAN UNITED (4-3-1-2)
David De Gea 6: Spain No1 fell victim to two world-class, long-range strikes. Otherwise, had one save to make.
Ashley Young 5: Wildly charged at the ball, causing free-kick for Saints’ second. Ended mixed match at makeshift centre-back.
Chris Smalling 6: If video-assistant referee was present, would have incurred first-half penalty for a tug. Otherwise, was unruffled.
Victor Lindelof 7: Won more aerials (seven) than taller centre-back partner Smalling (six). Also relished building from defence.
Luke Shaw 7: Saints youth product was prominent in both halves, plus didn’t pick up booking that would have ruled him out at Arsenal.
Andreas Pereira 7: Mixed bag. A divine first Premier League goal since 2015/16 was staggeringly good, plus he got an assist for Lukaku’s first. He was, however, poor in possession (80 per cent) and nonexistent in the tackle (zero).
Scott McTominay 6: Started brightly and looked to be on course for another promising display. But then suffered a head knock and faded.
Paul Pogba 5: The France midfielder looks jaded – good job, in a way, he’s banned at Paris Saint-Germain. Took far too much time on the ball, missed an injury-time penalty and was booked.
Alexis Sanchez 4: Yet more evidence that is never going to happen for the Chile flop at Old Trafford. No key passes, shots or dribbles before injury forced his removal on 51 minutes. All three goals came after he was brought off.
Marcus Rashford 5: Was lively at Crystal Palace after injury, but was invisible on Saturday. Headed wastefully wide in second half.
Romelu Lukaku 8: More than made up for two early misses with two excellent second-half goals. Stroked it into the bottom corner for 2-1 then lashed in from the edge of the penalty area to make it 3-2. That’s four goals in two games.
5 – James Ward-Prowse has scored five Premier League goals this season, more than in any other campaign in the competition. Whipped.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 2, 2019
Diogo Dalot 7: Showed far more intent than Sanchez, producing an expert dribble and cross to tee up Rashford within moments of coming on.
Fred N/A: Came up with an assist for Lukaku’s clincher. Had little time to do much else.
Tahith Chong N/A: Netherlands youth international got a huge cheer from crowd when he won a late, late free-kick on his top-flight debut.
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