striking prowess. Danny Welbeck fed Antonio Valencia on the right and, once van Persie had chested down the cross as Nathaniel Clyne slipped, there was only ever going to be one outcome. A flash of the famous left foot saw the ball fly into the corner of the net, via a touch off Davis, to register the Dutchman’s second goal in consecutive games.
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.