MANCHESTER, England - Dejan Lovren grabbed a late equalizer for Southampton in a 1-1 draw at Manchester United on Saturday, adding to the champions' troubles in a lacklustre start to their English title defence.
Robin van Persie put United ahead in the 26th minute, pouncing on a rebound after Wayne Rooney had a shot blocked.
But Southampton, one of the surprises of the league this season, troubled United throughout and claimed a deserved point when Lovren bundled in a corner from James Ward-Prowse in the 89th.
United slipped eight points behind early leader Arsenal in what is proving to be a tough start to life at Old Trafford for new manager David Moyes, whose team lost 2-1 to West Bromwich Albion in its last home league game.
The last time Southampton was in the north of England, Croatia defender Lovren scored the winner in a 1-0 victory at Liverpool to end the then-leader's unbeaten start to the season.
The visitors started this game in the top four and won't be too far from the top of the table come the end of the season on this evidence.
For United and Moyes, though, the problems continue. At times, they were outplayed by Southampton, with Van Persie and the ineffective Rooney being well shackled.
Eleven points from eight games is a poor return for a club the size of United, which won the league by 11 points last season.
Hours after signing a new five-year contract with United, Adnan Januzaj was handed another start and another chance to enhance his burgeoning reputation.
The Belgium-born winger couldn't repeat his exploits of two weeks ago, when he scored twice in United's come-from-behind win at Sunderland, but it was his incisive pass that led to Van Persie's goal.
Januzaj's curling through-ball to Rooney put the England striker through, but his first-time shot was saved by Artur Boruc. The ball rebounded out to Van Persie, who rounded the goalkeeper and placed the ball to the side of the sprawling Lovren, who was covering on the line.
In the second half, only a brilliant one-handed stop from Boruc denied Januzaj a goal following a swerving shot from 30 yards. United's other best chance came soon after the goal, when Rooney smashed a volley against the crossbar.
Otherwise, Southampton gave as good as it got in a further demonstration of the team's progress into perhaps a side that could challenge for a European place for next season.
The visitors' passing and movement, particularly in the first half, was impressive but there was a lack of cutting edge up front, with England striker Rickie Lambert only introduced off the bench just before the hour.
Italy striker Dani Osvaldo wasted Saints' best early opportunity, when he sidefooted straight at goalkeeper David de Gea after Rooney was dispossessed deep in United's half. De Gea also had to produce a smart save with five minutes left from Nathaniel Clyne but he was denied a clean sheet when Lovren beat Phil Jones to an inswinging corner and prodded the ball home.