Manchester United made it two Premier League wins on the bounce with a 1-0 win over Southampton at St Mary’s.
Having started the season with a pair of defeats – the second a humiliating 4-0 reverse at Brentford – Erik ten Hag’s side have now beaten Liverpool and the Saints to climb away from the foot of the table.
The game was goalless at the break despite both teams having chances, notably the thrilling goalmouth scramble that saw three United shots blocked in quick succession.
United finally found the opener through Bruno Fernandes, who fired a low, right-footed shot past Gavin Bazunu from the centre of the penalty area.
That proved enough to secure all three points on a day when Cristiano Ronaldo again had to settle for an appearance from the bench and Casemiro made his United debut, also as a substitute, following his move from Real Madrid. Harry Maguire was again an unused substitute, though, with Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez preferred as the centre-back pairing.
Che Adams, who came off the bench to bag a game-winning double against Leicester, started for Saints, who paid tribute to late midfielder David Armstrong with a 10th-minute standing ovation.
Neither side was able to muster any real chances in the first 10 minutes though United saw more of the ball.
The visitors worked their way up the pitch where Diogo Dalot found himself in possession at the right-hand corner of the area but sent his effort across the face of goal.
Mohamed Elyounoussi’s cross soon found Adam Armstrong, whose header was easily caught by David De Gea.
Soon after, Saints somehow escaped unscathed from an onslaught of United attackers, Gavin Bazunu first stopping an Anthony Elanga shot from close range before two successive attempts within seconds were cleared by Kyle Walker-Peters and Armel Bella-Kotchap.
The hosts settled in, Adams looking hungry for an opener and in good position to receive Elyounoussi’s cross but sent his attempt high, while Armel Bella-Kotchap skied his own effort soon after.
And Adams could not put the finishing touch on another attempt, sending a strike right at De Gea.
Christian Eriksen looked to manufacture an opener from the edge of the area, sending in a cross but unable to find anyone in a neon green away shirt available in the box to finish the job.
Adams, who looked dangerous throughout the half, had two more chances to get the hosts on the scoresheet before the break, first scuffing a right-footed effort from the right before bringing down a goal kick and sending the ball over the crossbar.
United were awarded a free kick for Joe Aribo’s foul on Scott McTominay but Romeo Lavia rose to meet it, sending the sides goalless into the break.
It was United who had the first chance after the restart, McTominay firing at a diving Bazunu who got his fingertips on the ball to parry it away.
The visitors finally broke the deadlock on 55 minutes when Dalot issued a pinpoint cross to Fernandes, in acres of space at the centre of the penalty area.
The Portuguese international wasted no time, sending a low, right-footed volley into the bottom left corner.
The hosts were never out of the match and nearly responded in the 65th minute when Armstrong sent a cross into the box from a tight angle and Joe Aribo rose to meet it, but De Gea reacted quickly to deny Saints an equaliser. Bella-Kotchap’s attempt to nod in the rebound was too high.
United substitute Ronaldo was brought down and had treatment but remained on the pitch.
Saints had a chance to level came through Bella-Kotchap in the 85th minute but he misfired, sending his effort over the crossbar, while Dalot was able to block Sekou Mara’s last-ditch bicycle kick in added time to seal the three points.
Fernandes admitted Manchester United had to suffer to hold on for the victory.
He told BT Sport: “We knew playing at Southampton is not easy. We have experienced that already. We did a great game, we know sometimes you have to suffer. Well done to us, great job. It’s a massive three points for us.
“It’s important, one win doesn’t win the league, two wins doesn’t win the league. We have to carry on for the rest of the season. This is what this club demands. All the players know that, after Liverpool everyone could feel it.
“We set the standard so we have to carry on and go with this standard and, if we can, improve it.”
Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl felt his side deserved more from the game.
He told BT Sport: “I’m very proud of the guys, they did a really good job. We had good moments, good chances. We stretched them and did a lot of things right and we deserved more.
“We had some good moments, good chances in the box and we got killed by two shots on target in the second half. It felt we were always dangerous but the ball didn’t want to go in.”