MANCHESTER United moved into third place in the Premier League with a win over Southampton last night but Louis van Gal will wonder how he came away from St Mary's with three points.
Just as they have done on a number of occasions in recent weeks, United dug points out of adversity, with a brace from Robin van Persie (left) enough to sink the home side. But van Gaal cannot have been happy with his team's display against a Saints team which threatened all night.
And there was more bad news on the injury front when Chis Smalling pulled up with an injured groin and was replaced by Jonny Evans, himself just back after a lay-off.
United opened the scoring against the run of play through van Persie but after Graziano Pelle equalised, Southampton poured forward looking for a winner.
Shane Long missed two half-chances before van Persie lifted himself above the general mediocrity to snatch the winner. United are now just five points behind rivals Manchester City and eight behind leaders Chelsea.
"It was a tough game but it's our sixth straight victory and we're on the way up," said van Persie.
3SEE PAGES 78-79