Sir Alex relief as United stretch lead

Sir Alex Ferguson was relieved to see his side move seven points clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League after Wednesday's 'lucky' 2-1 win over Southampton.

Man United vs Southampton: Danny Welbeck


After second-placed Manchester City were held to a 0-0 draw at QPR on Tuesday, the Red Devils had an excellent opportunity to increase their advantage in the title race with a seemingly straightforward home game against relegation-threatened Southampton.

Although Jay Rodriguez pounced on a mix-up between Michael Carrick and David de Gea to give the Saints the lead after just two minutes, United soon found themselves in front by the 27th minute after a well-taken brace from Wayne Rooney.

However, Southampton, galvanised under new boss Mauricio Pochettino, dominated the entire second half and were unlucky not to leave Manchester with a point to show for their efforts.

Speaking to MUTV after the game, Ferguson admitted fortune favoured his side as they eked out a win he believed could be pivotal in deciding where the title is headed come the end of the season.

"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'," he said. "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 71-year-old revealed the playing surface had made things difficult for his side, but insisted that was not an excuse for their lethargic display after the break.

"In the second half, the players just found the pitch impossible," Ferguson added. "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 halftime, 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."

United are next in action on Saturday when they visit Craven Cottage to take on Fulham.

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