Robin Van Persie Goes from Villain to Hero with Hat Trick Against Southampton

Dan RenfroCorrespondent IIISeptember 2, 2012

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 02:  Robin Van Persie of Manchester United celebrates victory during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Manchestrer United at St Mary's Stadium on September 2, 2012 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Robin van Persie bailed himself out.

In the 69th minute against Southampton, the Manchester United striker stepped up to the penalty spot with a chance to equalize. Instead of blasting it past the keeper, van Persie attempted a cheeky, Panenka-style chip that was easily saved by Kelvin Davis.

With United down 2-1, it looked like van Persie had tried to be too clever for his own good. Southampton had been going toe-to-toe with the Red Devils, and United didn't look like they would get a better opportunity than a penalty.

It looked like van Persie had wasted United's best chance, and he was going to hear it from both the visiting and home crowds.

Then the tides turned.

United attacked ruthlessly, and they kept the Saints on their heels. Van Persie found the net twice, giving himself a hat trick and Untied three necessary points.

For van Persie, those final two goals were priceless.

Manchester United fans are intelligent and spoiled. They know what it takes to win trophies, and they've watched their team do it time and again. If Wayne Rooney (injured for now) offers a better chance to win over van Persie, they won't have a problem benching the Dutch international.

By missing that penalty kick, van Persie looked to be the villain for United. Suddenly, everyone was wondering how quickly Rooney could come back; they needed a guy they could rely on.

Then van Persie did what he does best: score goals.

The former Arsenal man found the net twice in the waning moments, giving United the three points they wanted, even if they only deserved one. Moreover, it helped everyone forget that missed penalty.

Suddenly, van Persie had reminded everyone that he scores when he wants; he simply didn't need that penalty because he's much more into the theatrics.

Van Persie understands that two last-minute goals are more impressive than a 69th minute penalty. He knows what it takes to become a legend, and he took the necessary steps to do that.

OK, so maybe that wasn't on purpose. Nevertheless, van Persie better count his blessings because it's a lot better to be a hero than a villain.

And he was very close to finding out what the latter feels like at United. Instead, his heroics made him an idol for this week.

He just needs to maintain that heroic mindset.