Van Nistelrooy hits hat-trick in 6-1 victory over Southampton

The Dutchman scored his first hat-trick in Manchester United’s jersey in a 6-1 thrashing of the Saints

Ruud van Nistelrooy scored his first hat-trick for Manchester United as Sir Alex Ferguson's side moved up to fourth in the Barclays Premier League with a 6-1 win against Southampton.

Van Nistelrooy scored his first after 31 seconds and had completed his treble with United's fourth by the 53rd minute. Marian Pahars pulled one back before two late goals wrapped up the victory.

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That gave United 43 BPL goals in their first 18 fixtures, with van Nistelrooy grabbing 10 of them, making them the competition's top scorers.

The summer signing from PSV Eindhoven opened the scoring inside the first minute.

Saints' defence failed to cope with a crossfield pass from Paul Scholes and the Netherlands international brought the ball down before hammering a fierce shot past goalkeeper Paul Jones.

Ruud van Nistelrooy scores one of his three goals against Southampton

Ruud van Nistelrooy scores one of his three goals against Southampton

Van Nistelrooy doubled the lead in the 33rd minute after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's corner caused confusion in the Southampton penalty area.

Solskjaer hit the third before half-time with a volley from Nicky Butt's pass.

Paul Telfer and James Beattie had each missed a glorious chance for Gordon Strachan's side in that first 45 minutes and, after van Nistelrooy completed his treble with a cool finish from Scholes' pinpoint pass, Pahars pulled a goal back after Telfer dispossessed Juan Sebastian Veron.

The introduction of substitutes Ryan Giggs and David Beckham upped United's tempo once again.

Giggs set up Roy Keane to score the fifth with a fierce 72nd-minute shot and Phil Neville completed the scoring as he cut in before firing in a left-foot shot six minutes later.

United, Barclays Premier League champions for the previous three seasons, lost their crown to Arsenal as they finished third. Southampton came 11th.

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