30/01/2013 22:42, Report by Steve Bartram

Boss' relief after scare

Sir Alex Ferguson cited United's narrow, nail-biting victory over Southampton as 'a bit lucky' and paid tribute to the Saints' second half display at Old Trafford.

Wayne Rooney's first-half double had the Reds ahead after Jay Rodriguez's second-minute opener, but the Reds were pinned back inside their own half for much of the second period as Southampton dominated possession, albeit without often breaking down United's resolute defence. Sir Alex told MUTV:

"In my experience at the club, when we're going for championships there's always a game where you say to yourself: 'we were a bit lucky,' and I think this was one of those nights. I thought Southampton, in the second half, gave the best performance anyone's given here this season. I think they pushed right on top of us and didn't give us time to settle."

The Old Trafford playing surface has been showing signs of wear and tear this winter, and Sir Alex admitted the pitch had been detrimental to the Reds' play.

"In the second half, the players just found the pitch impossible," he said. "We tried to play the way we normally play and found it difficult because the pitch had dried out a lot. We lost an early goal in the first half but it didn't deter us from playing some fantastic football and we could have been four or five up at half time, but once the pitch started to dry out the players found it difficult to play a different way and it really required us to play the ball into the gaps, which we don't normally do. We can't use the pitch as an excuse, but it didn't help us. It's a worry. We've won the game and I think that's the one thing we can take out of it."

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