Southampton, back in English soccer’s Premier League for the first time since 2005, twice led at St. Mary’s yesterday on goals from Rickie Lambert and Morgan Schneiderlin. Van Persie, who had a penalty saved when he attempted a chipped shot toward the corner, got the winning goal in injury time.
“I don’t know what I was thinking about with the penalty,” Van Persie told Sky Sports. “I wanted to hit it hard as always, but changed my mind at the last second.”
In yesterday’s other matches, Arsenal won 2-0 at Liverpool for its first victory of the season, and Aston Villa tied 1-1 at Newcastle.
Chelsea leads the standings with nine points from three matches, Swansea, West Bromwich Albion and Manchester City have seven points, while United is among three teams on six points.
Southampton took the lead on 16 minutes after an opening period in which United had pushed the home team back into its own half without threatening the goal.
Schneiderlin cut out a pass from Tom Cleverley in the center of the field and passed to Jason Puncheon who curled in a cross from the right for Lambert to head into the net.
The advantage lasted only seven minutes before Van Persie scored for a second straight game. The Dutchman chested down a ball from Antonio Valencia before striking a shot past Kelvin Davis.
Van Persie curled a freekick wide and Patrice Evra had a headed effort, but United struggled to create many more chances before halftime as the Saints held firm.
Shinji Kagawa and Van Persie both hit shots wide in the opening few minutes of the second half before Southampton re- established its lead after 55 minutes.
Evra slipped, leaving Schneiderlin unmarked 10 yards out to head past Anders Lindegaard. United’s goalkeeper made a low save at his near post three minutes later to stop the Saints from scoring again.
“Southampton kept crossing the ball and scored two goals from crosses, which is disappointing, but credit to them, they are good at it,” Ferguson told Sky Sports.
Van Persie was United’s main attacking threat and he had an opportunity to tie the game for a second time when his team was awarded a penalty kick in the 69th minute. The Dutchman tried to chip the ball over Davis, who dived the correct way and turned it around the post.
Southampton was enjoying a spell of possession and appeared as likely to increase its lead as allow a goal from record 19- time league champion United.
United was finally level with three minutes remaining when Rio Ferdinand headed against a post and Van Persie followed up to score.
The visitors pressed forward for a winning goal and two minutes into stoppage time Van Persie headed in his fourth goal in three matches since joining from Arsenal. It gave Ferguson a 599th league win with the club.
The defeat leaves the Saints as the only team yet to score a point in the Premier League this season.
At Anfield, Arsenal’s new signings Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla scored to send the hosts stumbling to their worst league start in 50 years.
Podolski’s left-foot strike went past Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina in the 31st minute for the Gunners’ first goal of the season. Cazorla’s shot snuck under the keeper in the 68th minute.
Liverpool is among four teams with only one point, which matches the start from the 1962-63 season as the worst in the club’s history.
For Arsenal, which started with two 0-0 draws, it was the first time in 88 years the team hasn’t allowed a goal in its first three matches.
“The sharpness gets better from game to game,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told reporters. “Overall we looked solid.”
Aston Villa secured its first point with a Ciaran Clark goal at Newcastle, which replied in the second half from a powerful shot by Hatem Ben Arfa.
Two days ago, Manchester City beat Queens Park Rangers 3-1, West Ham defeated Fulham 3-0, and Tottenham was held to a 1-1 home draw by Norwich. West Bromwich Albion won 2-0 against Everton, while the matches between Swansea and Sunderland, and Wigan and Stoke, finished as 2-2 draws.