Undaunted, the Saints went close when Lambert smashed a splendid drive wide and Lallana’s effort had Lindegaard, recalled in favour of David De Gea, scrambling across his goal to watch it creep wide. Van Persie looked in the mood and placed a curler too high after fine approach work by Valencia and Welbeck before scooping a cheeky free-kick off target following a cynical foul by Jose Fonte on Welbeck.
Although gaining a degree of control, there were few efforts to trouble veteran keeper Davis as half-time approached. A patient build-up led to Patrice Evra’s downward header from a Valencia cross working the home No1 but it was a rare sight of goal in the period leading up to the interval.
Kagawa fired inches the wrong side of Davis' left-hand post after van Persie's delightful lay-off to a Rafael pass but the Dutchman's touch was awry for once after Valencia pounced on a slack kick out by the Saints keeper. Van Persie could only miscue his finish and it proved costly as the hosts regained the lead on 55 minutes.
Evra's slip granted Schneiderlin the freedom of the penalty area to plant a header beyond Lindegaard when Lambert floated the ball into the danger zone. Only Lindegaard denied Puncheon with a near-post save after the winger skipped past Evra so Sir Alex threw on Paul Scholes and Nani for Tom Cleverley and Kagawa.
Scholes' first involvement was to set up van Persie for an attempt from a difficult angle that forced prompt action by Davis but Rio Ferdinand needed to be alert to cut out a Lambert centre after the hard-working striker sprung the offside trap. United were handed a lifeline when another stray pass by keeper Davis allowed Nani to find van Persie and the Dutch star was clattered from behind by fellow countryman Joos Hooiveld.