Saints add to Moyes’ misery.
Dejan Lovren’s late equaliser saw Southampton to a 1-1 draw at Manchester United on Saturday as David Moyes’s difficult start to life at Old Trafford continued.
Robin van Persie came off the treatment table to give United the lead.
But Moyes, following in the giant footsteps of retired United manager Alex Ferguson, saw his side pegged back, with this result leaving the Premier League title-holders four points equidistant between the Champions League places and relegation.
Dutch striker van Persie’s opening goal was the product of another sublime moment from winger Adnan Januzaj, whose recent meteoric rise through the United ranks resulted in a new five-year contract announced just before kick-off.
However, an anxious United performance culminated in an 88th minute corner from James Ward-Prowse which caused panic in the home defence.
Croatia centre-back Lovren responded first, shooting powerfully goalwards and claiming a dramatic equaliser.
The 18-year-old Januzaj showed again just what a precocious talent he is by instigating the move that saw United take a 26th minute lead.
His stunning pass from the halfway line freed Wayne Rooney who surged clear of the Southampton back line and looked likely to score only for goalkeeper Artur Boruc to block his shot.
Van Persie, a doubt before the game due to calf and toe injuries, collected the rebound alertly and calmly rounded Boruc before rolling the ball into the net from a wide angle — despite the presence of covering Saints defenders.
It was a lead United just about merited for their first-half endeavours although Southampton, who arrived at Old Trafford five places and four points above their hosts, certainly looked capable of adding to Moyes’s recent woes.
Twice in the early exchanges, Jay Rodriguez had promising headers without truly threatening the home goal before United began to settle and, after 10 minutes, van Persie latched onto Michael Carrick’s lofted pass into the area and chipped a fabulous left-foot volley just wide of the far post.
Van Persie was soon handed the first clear opening when Rafael combined with Nani down the right and the Portuguese winger picked out the forward, whose crisp shot was well held, at the second attempt, by Boruc.
There were still warning signs for United, who found it difficult to cope with the bold decision of Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino to drop England striker Rickie Lambert and opt for a packed, high-tempo midfield.
That pressing game almost paid off when Rooney was caught in possession deep inside his own half after 24 minutes by Adam Lallana, who swung over an accurate ball for Dani Osvaldo only for his team-mate to rush his shot straight at United keeper David de Gea.
It was a glorious chance and a miss made all the more costly when Januzaj’s brilliance set up United’s opener.
The match might have been settled three minutes later when Nani found Rooney in the box only for his thunderous strike hit the Southampton bar.
Southampton started the second half as impressively as they did the first, with van Persie required to head off his line after de Gea appeared to have misjudged Lovren’s towering set-piece header.
United’s mounting frustration was reflected in a caution for Januzaj, booked for a trip on Nathaniel Clyne and Pochettino, sensing an upset, brought on Lambert.
United might have settled their nerves after 63 minutes when Rooney’s corner picked out van Persie who headed against the Saints bar.
Jonny Evans did well to reach the rebound, setting up Nani for a shot which Boruc saved well at the foot of his post.
The Southampton keeper performed even more impressively a minute later when Januzaj unleashed a swerving 25-yard shot which Boruc somehow kept out with a twisting, one-handed diving stop.
Lallana, from 20 yards, shot directly at de Gea and Clyne’s low shot was then well-saved by the keeper as the Saints reminded United the game was far from over.