LONDON: Manchester United eased the pressure on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a 3-1 win at Everton in the Premier League on Saturday with Bruno Fernandes scoring twice and Edinson Cavani grabbing his first for the club.
United have failed to win at home in the league this season and there were questions over Solskjaer’s future after the midweek defeat to Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League.
But United, who move up to 13th and ten points, responded with a display which, while far from smooth, was full of character, epitomised by captain Harry Maguire’s determined display at the back.
“We knew we had to get three points today. It’s early in the season and we don’t look at the table but the points we have accumulated isn’t good enough for this club,” said Maguire.
The pressure on Solskjaer intensified when Everton took the lead in the 19th minute with Brazilian winger Bernard’s low drive through Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s legs squeezing in the bottom corner.
Six minutes later though, United drew level when Fernandes met a Luke Shaw cross from the left with a perfectly angled and firm header.
Everton left back Lucas Digne then struck the post from a promising position but United were growing into the game and it was no surprise when they took the lead.
Fernandes floated in a cross from the left which Marcus Rashford rose to head into the bottom corner but although the striker failed to connect, the ball went in off the post.
Substitute Cavani added the third in stoppage time, finishing off a counter-attack led by Fernandes for his first goal since joining the club on deadline day last month.
The loss was the third straight defeat for Carlo Ancelotti’s side who, after being the early season pace-setters, have now slipped to fifth in the standings.
Southampton, meanwhile, moved into first place in England’s top flight for the first time since 1988 after a comfortable 2-0 home victory over Newcastle United on Friday.
Che Adams volleyed the hosts into a seventh-minute lead and the only surprise was that it took them until the 82nd minute to double their advantage as Stuart Armstrong fired into the net.
The margin of the defeat flattered Newcastle who offered next to nothing as an attacking force.
Southampton’s fifth league win of the season, having lost their opening two games, moved them to 16 points from eight games and above champions Liverpool on goal difference.
Newcastle are in 11th spot on 11 points.
This time last year Saints manager Ralph Hasenhuttl’s job looked on the line after a 9-0 thrashing at St Mary’s by Leicester City — a record away win in the English top flight.
But the transformation with virtually the same squad has been outstanding and Southampton do not look out place on top of the Premier League for the first time.
They were without leading scorer Danny Ings, who underwent knee surgery after being injured in last week’s win over Aston Villa, but it did not blunt their attacking threat.
Southampton swarmed all over Newcastle from the start and it took them only seven minutes to open the scoring. Adams forced a flying save from Karl Darlow but the visitors failed to clear the danger and when Miguel Almiron lost possession to Theo Walcott, the former England forward teed up Adams to crash an unstoppable volley into the net.
Walcott, on a season-long loan from Everton, was at the heart of Southampton’s best moments and was inches away from doubling his side’s lead moments before halftime when his curling effort flew just wide of the post.
It was a perfect night for the 31-year-old who was playing his first home game for Southampton since leaving the south coast club to join Arsenal as a teenager in 2006.
Southampton’s relentless pressing game hounded Newcastle into errors and the hosts twice went close within a minute after halftime. Jan Bednarek’s effort got cleared off the line and then Oriol Romeu’s shot was touched onto the bar by Darlow.
Walcott could have had a penalty before Armstrong wrapped up the points with a low finish.