Manchester United stretched the lead at the Barclays Premier League to seven points on a night that become all about simply getting the job done against spirited Southampton.
For the ninth time in the league this term, the Reds came from behind to take the points but this was a nervous occasion following a more than satisfactory first half. After the interval, it's fair to say that the men from the South Coast were the better side.
Sir Alex Ferguson opted to play without wingers as Shinji Kagawa and Danny Welbeck were asked to parade the flanks in an attacking line-up. But the match had hardly settled down when the Saints stunned Old Trafford with the opening goal inside three minutes.
Michael Carrick intercepted a Morgan Schneiderlin pass but his volley back to David De Gea put the keeper in all sorts of trouble with Jay Rodriguez getting to the ball first, nudging it past the Spaniard and rolling into an empty net. It was a gift for the visitors but the damage was repaired within five minutes.
Kagawa collected a deflected Carrick pass and threaded a superb through ball into the path of Rooney, who supplied a simple, but clinical, finish past Artur Boruc to register his 100th goal at the Theatre of Dreams for the Reds. The celebrations had not died down when Rooney returned the favour to Kagawa, touching on a Phil Jones cross from the right, and the impressive Japan international was desperately unlucky to hit the inside of an upright from a tight angle.
Southampton continued to contribute during an even opening period and Gaston Ramirez smashed a free-kick over the bar as Mauricio Pochettino's new side displayed plenty of confidence and ambition. Yet United carried the greater threat with Robin van Persie cutting inside to prompt