The Saints put up a brave fight, but it’s Manchester United who go marching into the FA Cup fifth round after yet another come-from-behind win.
by: Nick Coppack
29/01/2011.- For the second time in four days, the Reds trailed at half-time, only to haul themselves back into the game and snatch victory in the second period.
This time it was Michael Owen and Javier Hernandez who did the damage, breaking Southampton hearts after the home side had taken the lead on the stroke of half-time.
Just as they did at Bloomfield Road on Tuesday night, though, Sir Alex’s substitutions made the difference at St Mary’s. The Reds had been second best all over the pitch until the boss introduced Nani and Ryan Giggs just before the hour. Their presence, and a re-jigged formation, had an instant impact. Within seven minutes, United had levelled. After a further 11, the Reds had one foot in the fifth round draw courtesy of another ice-cool Javier Hernandez finish.
The Reds’ South Coast excursion may have yielded the same result as Tuesday’s trip to Blackpool, but the United side was markedly different, with Sir Alex making eight changes.
Danish goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard was handed his United debut and played behind a Reds back four of John O’Shea, Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans and Fabio. Darron Gibson, Paul Scholes and Anderson were tasked with taking charge of midfield matters, while Gabriel Obertan and Javier Hernandez spearheaded the attack, with Michael Owen, somewhat surprisingly, playing in the hole.
Southampton boss Nigel Adkins also tweaked his side to give some of his younger squad members a taste of FA Cup action. Among those who benefitted was 23-year-old goalkeeper Barotsz Bialkowski, who came in for first-choice Kelvin Davis.
Both stoppers experienced scares in the opening exchanges. Lindegaard even had to pick the ball out of his net on seven minutes, although the goal was correctly ruled out after defender Dan Harding had strayed offside.
Down the other end, Owen curled a shot just wide of Bialkowski’s left-hand upright before going even closer on 16 minutes with an attempted cross that looped over the young Pole and struck the far post.
Southampton, 47 league places below the Reds, weren’t fazed by their opposition and continued to probe in attacking areas. Paul Lambert and Jose Fonte drew routine saves from Lindegaard, while Lambert also looked dangerous from set-pieces.
The Reds, meanwhile, struggled to win or retain possession in the centre of the park against Southampton’s four-man midfield. And so, when the home side struck on the stroke of half-time, few were surprised.
A minute earlier, Danny Butterfield had crossed for Guly Do Prado to head over from six yards. It should have acted as a warning to the Reds, but instead, with the clock ticking towards the interval, Richard Chaplow was allowed to collect a Lambert flick in the inside right channel, drive into the area and smash a shot into the roof of the net.
The goal prompted changes from Sir Alex in the second half, although not all of them immediate. Wes Brown replaced Fabio from the first whistle (O’Shea moved across to left back), but the biggest change – the introduction of Nani and Ryan Giggs and a switch to 4-4-2 – didn’t occur until the 58th minute.
That provided United with much-needed width and an extra man in midfield, as Gabriel Obertan moved to the right and Owen pushed on to join Hernandez up front. Sir Alex’s men looked more comfortable almost immediately; seven minutes later, scores were level.
Both substitutes had been quick to stamp their influence on the game: Nani with direct running and Giggs with quick passing. But it was Gabriel Obertan who made the equaliser, jinking down the right before firing in a cross that popped up off Danny Seaborne for Michael Owen to head in from seven yards. Game on.
Harding almost restored Southampton’s lead when his low cross flashed inches wide of the far post before Nani volleyed crisply at Bialkowski.
Then, Michael Owen pounced on Ryan Dickson’s mistake 30 yards from goal. He fed Ryan Giggs, who drew one defender before slipping a perfectly weighted pass through for Hernandez to control and squeeze a shot past Bialkowski.
Man Utd 2
Owen 65′, Hernandez 76′