Southampton were unlucky to fall to a 2-1 home defeat to Manchester United on Monday night, as a brace from Robin van Persie saw Louis van Gaal’s side leapfrog the south coast outfit into third in the Premier League table.
The Dutchman took advantage of some poor defending from Jose Fonte to open the scoring in the 12th-minute, before the hosts answered back on the half-hour mark as Graziano Pelle lashed home from close range to end his six-game goal drought.
The Saints were the more dominant team on the night, firing in 15 shots compared to United’s three, but failed to finish their chances, as Van Persie delivered again 20 minutes from the end when he directed skipper Wayne Rooney’s pin-point free-kick in at the back post for what proved to be the winner.
Nevertheless, there were positives for Southampton to take from the loss, not least the performance of centre-back Maya Yoshida, who was making his first league start since September in place of the injured Toby Alderweireld.
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While defensive partner Fonte looked suspect on the night, the Japan international kept both Rooney and Van Persie in check for long spells, and came mightily close to scoring a fantastic goal in the second-half when he glided past Michael Carrick.
While he was understandably disappointed to suffer a third consecutive defeat, after recent losses to Manchester City and Arsenal, respectively, the former VVV-Venlo man added that the team is remaining positive amid their current slide down the table.
“Of course, after we lost two games over the past two weeks it was a really, really important game for us,” he told BBC Radio Solent Sport.
“It was a home game against a massive opponent so we’re really, really disappointed, but we still have many games in December so we’re just focused on picking up other points.
“I think we created much more chances than them,” he continued. “But we made mistakes on set pieces and that’s why they have the points now.
“If you look at the table, we are dropping but we’re staying positive and now we have to show our team spirit.”
Yoshida has been on the receiving end of some considerable criticism from Saints fan in the past, but they were quick to give credit where credit was due on Monday night, with a number of them taking to Twitter to praise his showing.
All these people slating Yoshida before the game ... open your eyes! Not everyone (even your captain) is perfect! #saintsfc— Callum James Guy (@CalCal256) December 8, 2014
The one error aside we've been defensively brilliant so far. Yoshida very good again. #SaintsFC— Gary Dabbs (@SaintDabbsie) December 8, 2014
For all those slagging off Yoshida, what did he do wrong?! Could argue he should follow Van Persie for 1st goal, but anything else?— Dan (@dredman86) December 8, 2014
Yoshida brilliant again. Another who gets so much unnecessary stick. #SaintsFC— Gary Dabbs (@SaintDabbsie) December 8, 2014
Yoshida is looking much more assured this season #saintsfc— JustAnother (@SaintsOpinion) December 8, 2014
If the player of the season was picked tomorrow, I'd give it to Wanyama. Strong, decision making has improved and now consistent. #saintsfc— Mark Reeves (@MarkReeves999) December 8, 2014
Thought Yoshida was very good again. #SaintsFC need to give him a new contract ASAP.— Maya Yoshida Fan (@TacoAli) December 8, 2014
Yoshida played well today which i was surprised needs to keep at it then maybe fans wont be on his back all the time #saintsfc— matt hopgood (@matthsfc) December 8, 2014
Doubted us having a chance tonight with Yoshida playing, but thought he coped with Uniteds attack very well #saintsfc— Kingsland Corner (@KingslandCorner) December 8, 2014
As for Yoshida, I think he looked really solid today and by far our best defender, deserves the credit #saintsfc— Matt Dettmer (@dettmer93) December 8, 2014
Pelle back to his best tonight I thought. Main positive to take away+Yoshida. #SaintsFC— Ben McQuaide (@Ben_McQuaide97) December 8, 2014