LONDON, Dec 8 (Reuters) - Criticised earlier in the season, Dutch striker Robin van Persie's revival continued as he scored twice in a 2-1 victory at Southampton that moved Manchester United to third in the Premier League on Monday.
After last month's 2-1 win against Arsenal, manager Louis van Gaal said his compatriot was lacking confidence and was making little impact on matches after a poor return, by his own standards, of just three goals in 11 games.
Since then his response has been emphatic, scoring three goals in three games to lift United into the top three for the first time since August 2013 after a fifth successive victory.
"I felt good, I've been feeling good over the last couple of weeks fitness wise," Van Persie told Sky Sports. "I can play 90 minutes easily and every time it gets easier.
"Tonight I could keep it up until the last minute. That is what you want and then the goals, assists and in the end the wins will come. I have to just keep it going and playing well.
He opened the scoring at Southampton when he pounced on a poor back pass by Jose Fonte and scored from an acute angle.
"The first goal is a bit of a gamble, nine out of 10 times it doesn't come off and you still have to score," he said.
"I was a bit lucky there, it went through his legs but you earn your luck in those situations."
His second goal was his 140th in the Premier League as he became only the second non-English player after former Arsenal team mate Thierry Henry to reach the milestone.
United had been second best for most of the game but Southampton manager Ronald Koeman told Sky Sports that van Persie's quality had "made the difference".
United mustered only three shots on goal, their fewest since those statistics began being compiled 11 years ago, but Van Gaal said he was able to take positives that he had a forward who was able to convert their chances.
Despite their run of victories Van Gaal said his side still did not have momentum after what was a "lucky" victory.
"The performance was not good enough so I cannot say (we have momentum)," he told Sky Sports.
"We were the lucky team this evening. You have to improve the performance, we have to train to work hard and that's it." (Reporting By Tom Hayward; editing by Martyn Herman)