Romelu Lukaku hit a late winner as Manchester United moved to within three points of third-placed Tottenham after a pulsating game with Southampton.
With United two minutes from missing out on fourth spot, Lukaku struck with a calm finish to seal the points at Old Trafford.
Yan Valery had given struggling Saints a surprise lead with an outstanding finish from around 25 yards before United turned it around with two goals in six second-half minutes.
Andreas Pereira equalised with a spectacular long-range strike before setting up Lukaku to make it 2-1.
Saints fought back to make it 2-2 through James Ward-Prowse’s exquisite free-kick before Lukaku’s dramatic winner.
In an incident-packed match, Paul Pogba missed the chance to make it 4-2 when Angus Gunn saved his late penalty.
How long before United appoint Solskjaer?
When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was appointed interim manager in December following Jose Mourinho’s dismissal, third place looked a distant dream for United.
They’re now three points behind third-placed Tottenham and will move four points ahead of fifth-placed Arsenal with eight matches remaining if they beat the Gunners in London on 10 March.
United’s 10th win in 12 top-flight games under Solskjaer was perhaps their most entertaining match of his reign so far.
Having fallen behind to Valery’s sensational strike, United struggled to get into a rhythm before turning it around after half-time.
Pereira’s curled finish was of the highest quality and Lukaku showed great composure to make it 2-1 with a low, controlled finish.
Yet United, who had failed to win their previous three home games, looked like they would have to settle for a point after Ward-Prowse’s free-kick made it 2-2.
However, there is a never-say-die spirit about Solskjaer’s United and Lukaku whipped off his shirt in celebration after hitting the winner.
There was still time for Pogba to miss from the penalty spot after Stuart Armstrong had fouled Marcus Rashford, but even that failed to dampen the mood of the home fans.
Surely it can only be a matter of time before United’s hierarchy make Solskjaer’s appointment permanent.
Positives in defeat for Saints
Southampton remain two points above the relegation zone after a third defeat in four games.
Yet there are reasons to be optimistic about their survival chances over the next nine games despite ending up with nothing from a battling performance.
While Valery’s opening goal was sumptuous, Southampton’s response to falling behind shows there is character and spirit flowing through Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side.
The Saints still have to play Tottenham and Liverpool but their run-in also includes home games against Huddersfield and Bournemouth.
In addition, they will feel confident about away games against Brighton, Newcastle and West Ham if they can put in the same level of commitment as they did against United.
When Hasenhuttl took charge in December, Southampton were one point from safety. Despite this result, they have 18 points from 14 games and staying up is very much in their own hands.
Man of the match – Andreas Pereira (Manchester United)
Comeback kings against Saints – the stats
- Manchester United have come from behind to win nine Premier League matches against Southampton, an outright record in the competition.
- Southampton are the first away team to score two goals from outside the box in a Premier League game at Old Trafford since Manchester City in September 2009.
- United striker Romelu Lukaku has been involved in 11 goals in his last 11 Premier League appearances against Southampton (9 goals, 2 assists).
- Andreas Pereira became the first Brazilian to score and assist in a Premier League game for Manchester United since Anderson in May 2011 v Blackpool.
- Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse has scored five Premier League goals this season, more than in any other campaign in the competition.
Trailing 2-0 from the first leg, United are in need of another comeback win when they go to Paris St-Germain in the Champions League on Wednesday (20:00 GMT). The games don’t get any easier for Southampton – it’s Spurs at St Mary’s next Saturday (15:00).
More to follow.