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Saturday, 2 November, 2002, 16:56 GMT
Forlan finish boosts Man Utd
Phil Neville puts Man Utd ahead
Phil Neville scored his first goal of the season
Manchester United 2-1 Southampton

A late winner from substitute Diego Forlan gave Manchester United a vital victory over Southampton at a sodden Old Trafford.

United looked like dropping two points at home for the second week running until the Uruguayan struck his third goal for the club six minutes from time.

The hosts had taken an early lead when Paul Scholes played in Phil Neville with a superb pass.

However, Southampton hit back with a well-worked equaliser from Fabrice Fernandes just three minutes later.

And Gordon Strachan's side spurned two opportunities to take the lead either side of half-time.

But United battled on and Forlan's dipping winner prevented them losing further ground on Premiership leaders Liverpool.

  Match facts
15 mins: Phil Neville puts Man Utd ahead
18 mins: Fernandes brings Southampton level
45 mins: Michael Svensson goes close for Saints
48 mins: Barthez saves well from Beattie
84 mins: Forlan scores the winner

The hosts dominated the early stages, with Scholes especially elusive when dropping off strike partner Ruud van Nistelrooy.

And it was no surprise when they went ahead in the 15th minute.

Neville escaped the attentions of the Saints defence and was picked out by an instant pass from Scholes to mark his 200th league appearance with a rare goal.

When it comes to the last 25 minutes we always go for it - but what a strike!
Sir Alex Ferguson
Man Utd manager
However, instead of building on that advantage, United were pegged back by Southampton's first meaningful attack.

James Beattie headed on to Brett Ormerod, who turned neatly and found Fernandes on the right of the box.

The Frenchman cut inside Mickael Silvestre and fired a fine curling shot past the helpless Fabien Barthez in the home goal.

Southampton scorer Fabrice Fernandes
Fabrice Fernandes posed danger for Saints
United continued to dominate possession and saw first a David Beckham header cleared off the line and then Van Nistelrooy miskick in front of goal.

But Southampton again created danger of their own and were inches from going in front right on the half-time whistle.

Michael Svensson reacted quickest to Fernandes' free-kick but his faint touch from little more than a couple of yards out saw the ball bounce fractionally wide of the far post.

And in the 48th minute, it took an excellent save from Barthez to deny Beattie from the edge of the box.

United responded with plenty of possession but a combination of brave Southampton defending and a lack of fluency on their own part restricted them to few clear-cut chances.

Sir Alex Ferguson threw on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with 22 minutes to play, giving Van Nistelrooy more support and allowing Scholes to drop into a more creative midfield role.

We didn't get the points but we got a performance - my players have nothing to reproach themselves for
Gordon Strachan
Southampton boss
And with Southampton defending their point in ever-increasing depth, United began to crank up the pressure on the visitors' goal.

Van Nistelrooy and Beckham both shot into the side-netting before Forlan struck the winner with just six minutes to play.

The substitute picked up the ball on the edge of the box and fired a dipping shot over goalkeeper Antti Niemi and into the Southampton net.

Man Utd: Barthez, Gary Neville, Blanc, Ferdinand, Silvestre (Solksjaer 68), Beckham, Veron, P Neville (Forlan 79), Giggs, van Nistelrooy (O'Shea 87), Scholes.
Subs not used: Ricardo, Fortune.

Southampton: Niemi, Bridge, Lundekvam, Michael Svensson, Dodd, Marsden (Delgado 88), Anders Svensson, Oakley, Fernandes, Ormerod (Delap 74), Beattie.
Subs not used: Jones, Hall, Telfer.

Referee: U Rennie (S Yorkshire)

Attendance: 67,961

BBC Five Live's Ian Brown
"Forlan must be nearing legendary status"
Man Utd boss Alex Ferguson
"Forlan's attitude is fantastic"
Southampton boss Gordon Strachan
"I felt that we really deserved something"
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