Bruno Fernandes scored the winner as Manchester United made it two wins in a row after a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Southampton.
Erik ten Hag named an unchanged line-up from the side that beat Liverpool on Monday, but United failed to reach those levels of tempo and intensity against a more physical Saints team.
The visitors should have scored after Christian Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes both had efforts blocked on the line but their energy levels plummeted after a bright opening.
It was Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men who created the better chances in the first half with Amel Bella-Kotchap having the best of them, blazing over from around four yards out, while Everton target Che Adams spurned two good opportunities.
United’s tempo improved slightly after the break and they broke the deadlock on 55 minutes when Diogo Dalot’s cross was volleyed in by skipper Fernandes inside the box for his first goal of the season.
The Saints brought on Stuart Armstrong and they came agonisingly close to equalising when Joe Aribo’s header was brilliantly kept out by De Gea.
Ten Hag brought on Casemiro for his debut in the closing stages as United clung on for their second victory in a week.
Some building blocks for Ten Hag to work with.
A far from convincing win for United but plenty of positives to take including a first cleansheet under Ten Hag, ending their woeful away record and the confidence starting to come back after a torrid 12 months.
And team selection wise Ten Hag looks to have a more settled central defence with Rafael Varane in the team compared to the horror shows against Brighton and Brentford after realising Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw are not currently good enough to start.
Casemiro will come in for McTominay at some point but the final third looks more fluid since Fernandes was made skipper with the Portuguese midfielder looking like his old self more in tandem with Christian Eriksen.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Armel Bella-Kotchap (Southampton): Great name, great performance. The 20-year-old was a constant threat going forward and he dealt with Rashford’s threat well with his size and physicality.
MAN UNITED: De Gea 7, Dalot 7, Varane 8, Martinez 5, Malacia 6, McTominay 6, Eriksen 6, Fernandes 8, Sancho 5, Rashford 5, Elanga 5…Subs: Ronaldo 5, Fred n/a.
SOUTHAMPTON: Bazunu 7, Walker-Peters 7, Bella-Kotchap 8, Salisu 7, Djenepo 7, Lavia 6, Ward-Prowse 6, Elyounoussi 5, Aribo 5, Armstrong 5, Adams 7. Subs: S. Armstrong 5, Mara n/a, Lyanco n/a, Perraud n/a.
18′ – SO CLOSE! Dalot’s delivery finds Fernandes whose header is poor, Elanga’s effort is then blocked by the keeper, Eriksen’s rebound and Fernandes’ shot are both blocked on the line by the Saints defence.
30′ – SAINTS CORNER: Ward-Prowse’s delivery to the near post, its flicked on by Adams and falls to Bella-Kotchap who blazes it over from 4 yards out on the stretch!
55′ – GOAL FOR UNITED! After a slick passing move, Dalot’s cross falls to Fernandes on the volley from the edge of the box.
85′ – CHANCE! Bella-Kotchap wins the ball high up and takes on a couple of United players before wildly lashing it well over.