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United, Southampton eye cup success

50-50 Challenge

Transfer Rater: Calhanoglu to Chelsea

 By Alex Crook

Victor Wanyama immense as Southampton stun Manchester United

Substitute Charlie Austin wasted no time in making himself a Southampton hero by scoring a debut winner as Ronald Koeman's side beat Manchester United 1-0 on Saturday, to triumph at Old Trafford for the second season in succession.

Austin headed James Ward-Prowse's pin-point free kick beyond United goalkeeper Dave De Gea three minutes from time to make it three victories in a row without conceding for Koeman's rejuvenated side.

With Austin spearheading their attack and a much-improved defence, there is every reason to expect Southampton to be challenging for a European place come the end of the season.

Manchester UnitedManchester United
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Player ratings: (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):

GK Fraser Forster, 6 -- Like most visiting goalkeepers facing United at Old Trafford these days, Forster could have watched from the stands for the majority of the afternoon. The England hopeful only had to make one save worthy of the name to keep out Daley Blind's speculative effort as he kept a third successive clean sheet since returning from a serious knee injury.

DF Cedric Soares, 6 -- Usually more comfortable going forward than protecting his own goal, the Portuguese has clearly been working overtime on improving the defensive side of his game. Handled everything United's limp attack could throw at him but appeared reluctant to stray too far forward at times.

DF Virgil van Dijk, 7 -- The Dutchman has looked at home as part of a back three and has been one of the driving forces in Southampton's newly found defensive solidity. Van Dijk was rarely caught out of position and expertly shackled the bungling Marouane Fellaini before also keeping substitute Juan Mata quiet after the Belgian bruiser had been taken off.

DF Jose Fonte, 7 -- Seems to have rediscovered some of his missing confidence which deserted him at times during Southampton's run of one win in 10 matches. Showed great leadership to stop his teammates panicking when United tried to apply the pressure early in the second half.

DF Ryan Bertrand, 7 -- Has been a revelation since Koeman asked him to sacrifice his preferred left-back role to form a back three with Van Dijk and Fonte. While the positional change may not aid his chances of becoming a first-team regular for England at Euro 2016 next summer, the former Chelsea man looks like he has been playing in central defence all his life.

DF Matt Targett, 7 -- Arguably the biggest game of Targett's fledgling career at the biggest club ground in English football, but the youngster showed no signs of inexperience or letting the occasion get to him. Came out on top of his personal duel with England under-21 teammate Jesse Lingard.

MF Victor Wanyama, 8 -- Has turned in a couple of impressive displays since his sending off against Norwich. The Kenyan powerhouse was strong in the tackle throughout and used the right amount of aggression without threatening to add to his tally of two red cards this season. Got the better of his former Southampton teammate Morgan Schneiderlin.

MF Jordy Clasie, 6 -- Quietly effective in front of Southampton's back three, without doing too much to grab people's attentions.

MF Dusan Tadic, 6 -- Unable to stage a repeat of his match-winning heroics from last season when his goal earned Southampton their first Old Trafford win in 27 years. The Serbian still looks like he poses more of a threat when used as an impact substitute rather than a starter.

FW Sadio Mane, 7 -- Showed why Louis van Gaal remains keen to bring him to United with a brilliant 60-yard run in the second half, which left three home defenders in his wake. Provides the perfect out-ball for Southampton in Koeman's revived system with his combination of raw pace and power.

FW Shane Long, 7 -- Knows he will have to up his game to retain his starting place following Austin's arrival and produced another tireless display for his team. Did not give Chris Smalling a minute's peace, held the ball up well for the likes of Mane and Tadic and always posed a threat running onto through balls.


MF James Ward-Prowse, 7 -- Replaced the ineffective Tadic for the final 23 minutes and set up the winner with another trademark free-kick.

MF Oriol Romeu, 6 -- Came on for Clasie after 67 minutes just as it looked like United were building up a head of steam and helped nullify their attacking threat.

FW Charlie Austin, N/R -- As debuts go they do not get much better than this. Had only been on the field eight minutes when he finished off Ward-Prowse's dead ball to begin to repay is bargain £4m fee. Austin equals goals.

Alex Crook is ESPN FC's Southampton blogger. Follow him on Twitter @alex_crook


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