04/01/2009 14:45, Report by Nick Coppack
Southampton 0 United 3
United beat Championship strugglers Southampton 3-0 on Sunday to set up an FA Cup fourth round clash with Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford.
Goals from Danny Welbeck, Nani and Gibson sealed the win against a Saints side that was reduced to 10 men after only 36 minutes.
Southampton boss Jan Poortvliet was incensed by Mike Riley’s decision, although he’d be hard pressed convincing anybody the dismissal changed the game. Southampton may have started relatively brightly, but United were already 1-0 up and in full control by the time Matthew Paterson lunged in on Nemanja Vidic and received his marching orders.
The sending off did, however, severely dent Southampton’s chances of progressing to the fourth round of the competition they won (by beating United) in 1976. That, incidentally, was the Saints’ last major honour.
By stark contrast, the last eight months have seen the Reds enjoy success in the Premier League, Champions League and Club World Cup. Now Sir Alex wants to add English football’s most famous piece of silverware to cap a dream 12 months.
Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs were recalled to the starting XI to inject experience into the side, but there was also a sprinkling of youth, most notably up front where Danny Welbeck was handed his second competitive start.
Carrick and Anderson took charge in the centre of midfield, while the recent back four (remember, Ferdinand is injured and Evra suspended) remained unchanged.
And although Southampton didn’t create any clear-cut chances, the United defenders did have to be on their toes early on as the home side looked sharp. Indeed, the Saints enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the first 10 minutes and passed the ball well in midfield.