Saints travelled north to take on the Champions elect with the majority of people suggesting an easy win for United was on the cards.
Both sides made changes with United making 4 and Saints 3.
The teams were.
De Gea, Jones, Smalling, Vidic, Evra, Welbeck, Carrick, Anderson, Kagawa, Rooney, van Persie.
Lindegaard, Da Silva, Ferdinand, Valencia, Nani, Cleverley, Buttner.
Boruc, Clyne, Yoshida, Hooiveld, Fox, Schneiderlin, Cork, Puncheon, Rodriguez, Ramirez, Lambert.
Kelvin Davis, Steven Davis, Lee, Lallana, Richardson, Shaw, Chaplow.
United kicked off and ventured into the Saints half before Saints cleared and moved the ball upfield. A through ball looked to have been covered by Carrick but he attempted a chipped pass back to De Gea in goal and Jay Rodriguez raced onto the pass and taking the ball past the keeper coolly slipped into the empty net to give Saints an early lead.
United reacted as perhaps they were expected to and it took just 5 minutes for Wayne Rooney to equalize after he was put through with a lovely ball from Kagawa. 1-1 and all to play for but now United were on the rampage.
The very next attack saw Kagawa hit a fierce shot goalwards only to see it hit the nearside post and bounce to safety. United were now having most of the play and Artur Boruc had to make a couple of fine saves to keep them at bay.
The United held sway the contest was not completely one sided though with Pochettino`s men responding through a couple of free-kicks, one from Lambert that was deflected wide, and another from Ramirez which cleared the crossbar.
Robin Van Persie had been kept quiet from the start but a shot from him deflected wickedly off of Yoshida with Boruc going the wrong way but it flew just over much to Saints relief.
The escape was short lived because almost immediately On 28 minutes Van Persie whipped in a free-kick to the far post which was headed back across goal by Patrice Evra. The header dropped into the path of ROONEY who was on hand to tap home for the easiest goal he`ll ever score to make it 2-1.
Saints responded well and continued the pressure game and caused problems for United but were unable to break through. Lambert going close with a header from a corner that sailed just over the United goal.
Schneiderlin received a booking for pulling Carrick back as the half neared the end and at half time the score remained 2-1 with Saints looking anything but out of the contest. HT 2-1
Saints made two chances during the break bringing on Adam Lallana and Steve Davis for Gaston Ramirez and Jason Puncheon. This change seemed to have an immediate effect on the game as Saints began the second half brightly.
5 minutes into the half Lambert tried a volley which De Gea went down to save. Saints continued to increase the pressure with Lallana cleverly flicking at a corner with the outside of his boot, seeing his shot go narrowly over the bar. Then Lambert unleashed another long drive which again went just over.
United were showing the strain as De Gea spilled a Lambert long-range free-kick. A gasp went round Old Trafford but De Gea recovered and pounced on the loose ball to deny Lallana a tap-in. Corner after corner was scrambled clear and a Lambert knockdown was hit narrowly hit wide by Rodriguez.
Though it was now Saints clearly in the ascendancy United did manage to relieve the pressure with a Van Persie header being brilliantly saved by the acrobatic Boruc. Straight after, the Dutchman had an effort ruled out for a debatable offside before Saints resumed their pressure on the United goal.
With Saints in such firm control United had already brought on Rio Ferdinand and soon after Rafael was brought on. The players replaced were Smalling and Anderson. This brought a slight change to their formation but it didn’t stop the Saints onslaught.
Seconds before The flying save from Boruc United had made their final substitution with Nani replacing Kagawa. Still Saints pushed forward threatening to break through. Another United counter saw Rooney superbly thwarted yet again by Boruc.
The pressure on the home defence continued into added on time but sadly for Saints no way through could be found. Finally the biggest roar of the night was heard after referee Mason blew for full time.
Mauricio Pochettino 8
Pochettino had his players pressing from the off and he succeeded in keeping United under the cosh for long spells. His substitutions all worked well for him as well.
Alex Ferguson 7
Alex saw his side being pressured throughout the majority of the game and his substitutions made little difference to how the play shaped.
Sir Alex Ferguson said, ‘For the first 30 minutes thought we were fantastic, we played really well. But in the second half Southampton have been the best team to play here this season. We were fortunate to win the game. They pushed on top of us and didn’t give us any time on the ball.’