Southampton – Manchester United: Edinson Cavani inspired a Manchester United comeback with two goals and an assist off the bench in a 3-2 win over Southampton at St. Mary’s on Sunday.

Bruno Fernandes also scored for United, who moves into 7th with 16 points.

The Red Devils lost David De Gea at halftime to a knee injury and Dean Henderson finished the game between the posts.

[ MORE: JPW’s minute-by-minute analysis from St. Mary’s ]

Southampton got a goal and an assist from James Ward-Prowse in building a 2-0 lead, with Jan Bednarek also on the score sheet for Saints. Southampton sits sixth with 17 points, four points back of leaders Liverpool.

Southampton – Manchester United was intense from the opening whistle and a fun watch for neutrals.

1. Super sub Cavani makes his case with incredible quality: Edinson Cavani entered for Mason Greenwood at halftime and made a difference. He could’ve had a goal as he broke to the far post but didn’t get a pass from Marcus Rashford on the rush, then helped in the build-up before hitting a terrific pass for Fernandes’ goal. Cavani scored twice after the initial assist, and also cleared a Saints’ corner in the 68th minute, pitching in all over the field.

More encouraging? After Cavani assisted Fernandes, he was then able to adjust to the Portuguese star’s deflected cross to score, chemistry between two big pieces giving Ole Gunnar Solskjaer plenty of hope. With Marcus Rashford on one side or next to Cavani and myriad wing options, the plans should be pretty easy for the Norwegian going forward. Will he follow the map? It would insanely stubborn if that wasn’t the case.


— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) November 29, 2020

2. Ward-Prowse is the best set piece man in the Premier League: That’s high praise in a league with Kevin De Bruyne and several other marksmen, but Ward-Prowse’s combination with Bednarek for the opener was so difficult to thwart (and wasn’t) before his perfect, whirring, whirling free kick beat De Gea for 2-0. He’s incredible.

3. Red Devils look wise at keeping hold of Henderson: Nothing against Sergio Romero, but United’s refusal to sell Dean Henderson looks pretty wise after De Gea was injured trying to stop Ward-Prowse’s free kick goal. De Gea and Henderson give the Red Devils a 1-2 punch in goal that few teams can match, and Henderson may now have a huge chance to assert himself as part of United’s next generation.

A confused Jannik Vestergaard let Mason Greenwood dart around an on-charging Alex McCarthy but the United youngster couldn’t cut the ball on frame from an acute angle.

Saints went ahead on a James Ward-Prowse set piece, no surprise, his corner kick to the near post turned back into the side netting by Bednarek.

Kyle Walker-Peters dribbled into the 18 and lashed a shot off the inside of Alex Telles’ thigh that clipped the far post as United bid for 2-0.

McCarthy bailed himself out after a ridiculous pass gave United a break in the heart of Southampton’s half, making a super double save including a lunging block of Bruno Fernandes’ rebound bid.

Ward-Prowse then beat David De Gea with a supreme free kick, the Spanish goalkeeper hitting his knee on the goal post and subbing off at halftime.

[ MORE: Jordan Henderson wants to abolish VAR ]

United buzzed out of the interval and Edinson Cavani was flummoxed when Marcus Rashford shot instead of laying off for the Uruguayan as the Red Devils broke with numbers (though Rashford might’ve been exposed as offside by VAR).

Cavani then turned provider when he took an Aaron Wan-Bissaka feed and crossed for Fernandes to make it 2-1 with about a half-hour to play on the South Coast.

Wan-Bissaka spotted Cavani in the 69th, but the Uruguayan’s powerfully-turned header just missed the far post.

Cavani got his goal when he reacted so quickly to a deflected Fernandes cross, throwing his head at the ball to make it 2-2.

Saints didn’t quit, Che Adams turning and firing wide of the far post in the 78th.

But it was Cavani would score the seemingly inevitable winner, ducking to provide a wonderful headed goal off Marcus Rashford service.

Follow @NicholasMendola

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