Anthony Martial enhanced his burgeoning reputation by scoring twice in a 3-2 win over Southampton that moves Manchester United up to second in the Barclays Premier League. 

The French summer signing executed two impressively composed finishes either side of the half-time break to overturn Graziano Pelle’s opener at St Mary’s. Juan Mata enhanced the lead and Italian striker Pelle bagged his second to set up a tense finale, though the Reds held on to claim an excellent result that closes the gap on leaders Manchester City to just two points following their home defeat to West Ham.

Luke Shaw was unavailable to play against his former club after breaking his leg at PSV Eindhoven and Louis van Gaal selected Marcos Rojo to fill in at left-back, allowing Daley Blind and Chris Smalling to maintain their promising partnership in the middle. Wayne Rooney and Morgan Schneiderlin were recalled to the starting XI, with Anthony Martial also making his first Premier League start.

The match began at an even pace with both teams enjoying separate spells of possession in midfield, although it was the hosts who broke the deadlock in the 13th minute when Graziano Pelle pounced on David De Gea’s parried save from a Sadio Mane effort to convert underneath the Spanish goalkeeper. The towering Italian striker, who scored in this fixture last season, then hit the outside of the post with a low shot just moments later that prompted a visibly angry De Gea to berate his defence.

Memphis saw a looping header arc over Maarten Stekelenburg’s crossbar on 24 minutes as United – wearing the black adidas third kit – attempted to restore parity on the south coast. But it was far from easy against a home side that was defending with all 11 men behind the ball, while pressing up the pitch with an intensity that has earned plenty of praise during Ronald Koeman’s reign as boss.

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