the usual buzz of anticipation around the ground before seeing his shot deflect off target.
A dangerous cross by Rooney found its way through to Boruc, who scrambled clear, despite Kagawa and Danny Welbeck looking to pounce, and the Reds moved in front in the 27th minute. Van Persie floated a free-kick to the far post where Patrice Evra's diving header back across goal allowed Rooney to tap in from close range.
Evra and van Persie both fired wastefully wide from similar positions as Sir Alex's side hit top gear, cutting the Saints open with some outstanding moves. Welbeck was the central figure in supplying Evra's opening while Kagawa profited from a gem of a pass by Rooney to release van Persie, who was uncharacteristically profligate when presented with a sight on Boruc's goal.
The hosts continued to press before the break but Boruc kept out Welbeck after the England international expertly controlled a van Persie pass and let fly with his left foot. However, the match turned in the Saints' favour at the start of the second half when they noticeably upped their work-rate and brought on a couple of energetic substitutes.
Rickie Lambert had a volley well held by De Gea before cracking another attempt wide following an error by Chris Smalling. A casual pass by Kagawa was picked up by his fellow countryman Maya Yoshida and, when Smalling headed out the centre, substitute Steve Davis dragged his shot off target.
The lethargy brought the boss down to the touchline but the chances kept coming at De Gea's end. The Spanish shot-stopper gobbled up a Lambert free-kick at the second attempt while Davis nodded over the top as the pressure was maintained.