It's tough in the top flight

Bottom of the table - for now. Full picture at www.itv.com/sport Photo: ITV Meridian

Robin van Persie was a relieved man after his hat-trick got Manchester United and himself out of trouble with a 3-2 win at Southampton.

Headed goals from Rickie Lambert and Morgan Schneiderlin had put an out-of-sorts United 2-1 behind at St Mary`s, with Van Persie adding to their misery when he chipped a second-half penalty at Kelvin Davis.

It looked as though the summer signing was set for a dressing down from new manager Sir Alex Ferguson as a result, but he salvaged the situation by adding to his first-half goal with a tap in and an injury-time header.

"It was a good feeling afterwards," he told Sky Sports 1.

"I got a bit of luck with the second goal, and then at the end...

"Im very disappointed with the penalty. When that happens at 2-1 down, you cant take a penalty like that. Something went wrong big time."

The Holland international was keen to shirk being man of the match too, claiming veteran substitute Paul Scholes deserved the honour.

"I have to say a big thank you to Paul Scholes," he added.

"Every single pass he hit was the right one. It was unbelievable. He is man of the match for me."

Van Persie`s opinion on Scholes was shared by his manager.

Celebrating his 1000th league game in charge, Ferguson credited the former England international for guiding his side to a 599th win under his control.

"I thought Paul Scholes changed the game," he said.

"We controlled the first half and I thought in the second, lets get down to business`.

"But Southampton kept crossing the ball and scored two goals from crosses, which is disappointing, but credit to them, they are good at it.

"But Scholes` vision and passing helped us get complete control."

On Van Persie, who now has four goals from his two United starts, the Scot added: "He has come up with three important goals. Hes got four now in two starts, its a great statistic."

Southampton`s ever-positive manager Nigel Adkins tried to look on the bright side, but conceded there were things to be worried about.

"We put ourselves in a position to win the game and we haven`t," he said.

"Man Utd always finish the game strongly and we didn`t see it through.

"It`s all right talking about changing things, we need to be able to apply it.

"But all the lads put a great shift in. We will remain positive, we knew the first four games would be challenging but we have loads of positives."