Just one minute of normal time remained when Saints captain Adam Lallana diverted a stabbed effort from Dejan Lovren into the net at a corner. It was tough on the champions, who had hit the crossbar twice and had Adnan Januzaj’s fierce shot from 25 yards well saved by Artur Boruc.
Januzaj, the centre of attention on the day he signed a five-year United contract, was quiet until the 18-year-old helped to set up the Reds' goal on 26 minutes. Wayne Rooney latched onto the teenager’s immaculate through ball, but after Saints keeper Artur Boruc blocked the shot, van Persie was on hand, jinking to the left before rolling the ball into the far corner of the net. Rooney rattled the crossbar two minutes later with a smart shot on the turn inside the area. The Saints impressed with their passing game, and they could have scored had striker Dani Osvaldo packed more power into his close-range shot at David De Gea.
The woodwork denied van Persie in a lively spell just after the hour mark when he hit the bar with a header from a corner, and seconds later Boruc denied Januzaj the chance of another spectacular goal when he punched away the Belgian-born youngster’s long-range shot. Van Persie was inches away from touching in a Rooney cross on 72 minutes, and substitute Danny Welbeck could have put Rooney in for a chance but for a superbly-timed tackle from Morgan Schneiderlin. Mauricio Pochettino’s visitors looked increasingly threatening and De Gea had saves to make before Lallana struck. Five minutes of injury time arrived but United could not find another breakthrough in reply.