|photo by chefranden||via PhotoRee|
Two minutes in and a massive defensive blunder greets both a capacity-filled Old Trafford and surprised Southampton striker Jay Rodriguez. The shaky United defense, including the infamously flappy version of David De Gea, rears its ugly head once again, as Michael Carrick offers a backpass with all the conviction of a French General ordering his troops into battle, and the United 'keeper reacts to the mistake by appearing hoppier than a West Coast IPA. Rodriguez is quick to roll home the easy tap in to give his side a shock early lead, and although the game is only three minutes old, it's already time to ask the inevitable question: is the home side's leaky start an aberration, or a sign of things to come....?
Luckily, the evening's clash is against Southampton. Within six minutes, the Reds are level, after Wayne Rooney is put in by Shinji Kagawa and finds himself with only 'keeper Artur Boruc to beat, calmly dispatching the ball into the back of the net to even the scoreline. Less than two minutes later and the home side is nearly in front, as Rooney returns the favor by laying a delightful ball off for Kagawa, but the Japanese international is slightly off the mark and bangs the ball against the frame.
Close calls become the momentary theme of the evening, as Robin Van Persie adds his name to those who are only inches away when the Dutchman's swerving shot is deflected just over the Southampton net. Momentary is the operative word, however, as the two teams are soon separated once again: Patrice Evra offers a brilliant diving header to meet Van Persie's free kick, and it's Wazza with an easy tap in for his and the team's second goal of the evening. The Reds continue to have their way, as their fancy passing and quick ball movement repeatedly unlocks the visitors, while Southampton remain eager to go forward and look threatening on their intermittent opportunities against an uncertain United back line.