Javier Hernandez’s smart finish helped Manchester United avoid an embarrassing cup upset against Southampton in the FA Cup fourth round at St Mary’s.
The home side bossed the first half and deservedly broke the deadlock on the stroke of half-time, with Richard Chaplow smashing the npower League One side ahead.
While Southampton dominated possession, United’s introduction of Nani and Ryan Giggs 13 minutes into the second half swung the tie.
The pair gave Sir Alex Ferguson’s side the width they craved and helped the visitors come from behind to secure victory with two goals in 10 minutes.
First Michael Owen equalised with his first goal since September, before Hernandez ghosted in to wrap up the tie with quarter of an hour remaining.
Anders Lindegaard was handed his Manchester United debut in the FA Cup fourth-round tie against Southampton.
The Danish goalkeeper, who joined the Red Devils earlier in the transfer window, was one of a raft of changes made by manager Sir Alex Ferguson, with only Javier Hernandez and Jonny Evans remaining from the third-round defeat of Liverpool.
Southampton manager Nigel Adkins, meanwhile, decided to drop influential goalkeeper Kelvin Davis to the bench in favour of Bartosz Bialkowski, who started for Saints in the previous two rounds.
United started the game 48 places higher in the football pyramid than their hosts, who have recently seen their promotion tilt dented slightly.
Saints came into the tie on the back of a home draw with Notts County and defeat at Tranmere, whereas United are in the midst of an imperious unbeaten run in the Barclays Premier League.
It was Saints, however, that started brighter, passing the ball with confidence that belied their third-tier standing.
And the npower League One side had the first chance of the game in the sixth minute when Danny Butterfield crossed from the right to Rickie Lambert, whose header was blocked by Evans.
Saints continued to press and thought they had taken the lead when Dan Harding slotted home Richard Chaplow’s deflected shot, but the left-back was rightly adjudged offside.
Despite looking unorganised at the back, United were looking dangerous in attack and Michael Owen was unfortunate to slot just wide in the 10th minute.
Owen, who was playing as a deep-lying forward, again came close six minutes later when his shot-cross from the right looped over Bialkowski and hit the far post.
Saints, though, were impressing and regularly testing the United back-line, with Lambert and Jose Fonte both denied by Lindegaard.
United’s defence continued to look shaky as the first half progressed, needlessly giving away possession and failing to deal with the home side’s free-flowing game.
Lambert, in particular, was causing Ferguson’s men problems, proving a threat both in the air and from set-pieces.
But for all the Southampton possession United looked dangerous when they were allowed time to break, and Gabriel Obertan should have done better with a drilled shot in the 33rd minute.
The effort started a mini-revival for United as they began to take control of proceedings, although a lack of width tempered their attacking threat.
As the half came to a close, Southampton looked dangerous and were cursing Guly do Prado for putting a clear-cut header over.
However, Chaplow atoned for his team-mate’s miss moments later when the midfielder crashed home the opener from inside the penalty area.
The 25-year-old smashed the npower League One side into the lead at the end of a half in which the home side dominated possession at St Mary’s.
United, though, looked dangerous on the break with Michael Owen twice coming close to breaking the deadlock.
The feel good factor around St Mary’s increased at the break as heroes from Southampton’s victorious 1976 FA Cup side were paraded on the pitch.
Saints, then a second tier side, famously defeated United that afternoon and Ferguson was obviously keen to avoid another such upset.
Wes Brown replaced Fabio da Silva at half-time as part of a defensive reshuffle, although it failed to stifle the home side.
Adkins’ men continued to attack with aplomb and full back Harding epitomised Southampton confidence by slaloming through the United defence before testing Lindegaard.
As United continued to struggle Ferguson called on the cavalry 13 minutes after the restart, bringing on Ryan Giggs and Nani in place of Darron Gibson and Anderson.
The substitutions gave United the width they were crying out for and they almost paid dividend immediately.
First a Giggs’ free-kick resulted in Evans forcing Bialkowski into a save, before Owen flicked narrowly over from Nani’s cross.
Owen, though, soon found his range and drew United level in the 65th minute, nodding home Obertan’s deflected drilled cross.
Chamberlain came close himself with a long-range drive shortly afterwards, but United’s prowess soon shone through.
After Nani was thwarted by Bialkowski, the Polish keeper was helpless to prevent United taking a 75th-minute lead.
Giggs played through Hernandez, who made the most of Fonte’s slip to clip past Bialkowski and hand the Premier League side the lead.
Dany N’Guessan and Oscar Gobern came on for Southampton to aid their search for a later equaliser, the former making his debut after joining on loan from Leicester earlier this week.
Southampton, though, were unable to break down a resolute United side as the game petered out and the visitors secured their safe passage into the fifth round.
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