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Van Persie grabs hat trick, earns United win at Saints

LONDON -- Robin van Persie made up for an embarrassing failure from the penalty spot by grabbing a hat trick with two late goals in Manchester United's dramatic 3-2 win at Southampton on Sunday, earning the English giants a second straight win in the Premier League.

In a fitting way to mark United manager Alex Ferguson's 1,000th league game in charge, Van Persie equalized in the 87th minute before heading home a corner in the second minute of injury time for his fourth goal since joining from Arsenal for 24 million pounds (US$38 million) in the offseason.

Arsenal showed earlier there is life after Van Persie when new signings Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla scored their first goals for the club in a 2-0 win over struggling Liverpool.

The loss leaves Liverpool rooted in the bottom three after the club's worst start to a season in 50 years, compounding its woes after a failure to add some much-needed signings to the squad on Friday's transfer deadline day.

In the day's other match, Aston Villa earned its first point of the campaign with a 1-1 draw at Aston Villa, only being denied victory because of Hatem Ben Arfa's stunning second-half equalizer.

Van Persie's late show, which took him to 100 Premier League goals in 197 games, will have come as a mighty relief for the Netherlands striker, after his impudent chipped penalty was clawed away by goalkeeper Kelvin Davis in the 68th minute.

The score was 2-1 to Southampton at the time and United looked headed for a second loss in three games before Van Persie's last-gasp intervention.

“I don't know what I was thinking with the penalty. I was going to hit it hard but at the last second I changed my mind,” Van Persie said. “I'm quite disappointed about it. I ask certain standards from my game and at 2-1 down you cannot take a penalty like that.”

Ferguson, famous for what the British media calls the “hairdryer treatment” in the dressing room when his team or player underperforms, was all smiles after the match despite Van Persie's error of judgment.

“I was surprised because every time I've seen him take a penalty he usually rattles it into the corners, so I was confident,” Ferguson said. “But he made up for it.”

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Manchester United's Robin van Persie, center, scores against Southampton's during their Premier League soccer match at St. Mary's in Southampton on Sunday, Sept. 2. (AFP)

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