Rooney strikes as Man U beat Southampton

Last updated 11:44 31/01/2013
Wayne Rooney
Reuters
STRIKE: Wayne Rooney scored two goals against Southampton.

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Wayne Rooney struck both goals for Manchester United as they recovered from conceding an early goal to earn an unconvincing 2-1 victory over Southampton and open up a seven-point lead at the top of the Premier League.

Southampton had the temerity to score after three minutes at Old Trafford but order was quickly restored with Rooney equalising five minutes later and completing the turnaround with a 27th-minute tap-in.

Eight of United's previous 18 league wins this season had come from losing positions and they needed to dig in again after Rodriquez punished a poor Michael Carrick back pass to give Southampton a dream start at a ground where they had lost on 15 of their last 16 visits.

United were stunned into life, though, and were level five minutes later when Shinji Kagawa's defence-splitting pass was finished stylishly by Rooney.

The England striker then tapped in from close range after 27 minutes but the expected United domination failed to materialise as Southampton made it an awkward night for the leaders.

''Winning is the name of the game at this stage of the season,'' United manager Alex Ferguson said.

''For the first 30 minutes I thought we were fantastic, we played really well. But in the second half Southampton have been the best team to play here this season.

''We were fortunate to win the game.''Southampton might have earned a draw late on when Rickie Lambert's free kick forced a great save from David De Gea.

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