Cavani scored twice as Manchester United to beat Southampton a 3-2 at the St Mary’s Stadium

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Edinson Cavani came off the bench at halftime to almost single-handedly claw Manchester United back from a two goal first half deficit and earn a 3-2 win against Southampton in the Premier League. Goals from Jannik Vestergaard and James Ward-Prowse put the hosts in control at the break, but a goal from Bruno Fernandes and a brace from Cavani — including a stoppage time winner — got all three points for United.

Edinson Cavani celebrates scoring for Man united. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Reuters

United started the match well, moving the ball with purpose and authority. The visitors could have even been ahead after barely 5 minutes, thanks to a giveaway from Southampton defender Jannik Vestergaard. Mason Greenwood found himself through on goal unexpectedly, and while the young striker was able to round goalkeeper Alex McCarthy, his shot only found the side netting.

Southampton clearly had a plan to get stuck into United’s players, and their physical approach saw Bruno Fernandes and Donny van de Beek go down under crunching tackles within the first 15 minutes, while Marcus Rashford seemed to be constantly limping after some rough treatment.

Rashford may have still been feeling the effects of one of those challenges when he lost his marker at a Southampton corner in the 25th minute. The home side made their intent for the set piece clear when they crowded around David de Gea, forcing him to stay anchored to his line. Then, as he tends to do, James Ward-Prowse whipped in a dangerous ball from the corner. When Jan Bednarek slipped the attentions of Rashford, there was no other United defender to beat the Saints center back to the ball and he nodded deftly past De Gea from close range.

The goal may have been against the run of play, but for the next five minutes United had to weather a storm of Southampton pressure. Two dangerous corners followed in quick succession, one the result of a shot deflected off the post that could have easily gone in.

United had a chance to equalize from another Southampton mistake at the back, as a poor pass from McCarthy put Greenwood through on goal again. McCarthy atoned for his error this time though — a sharp save stopped Greenwood’s shot, and an even better one denied Bruno’s follow up.