DEFENDER Jan Bednarek vowed Saints would graft after their unbeaten run came to an end and said: “Hard work will be the key now.”

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men looked to have been in the box seat against Manchester United at St Mary’s thanks to Bednarek’s first-half headed opener and a sublime James Ward-Prowse free-kick.

But back roared United to come from two down to seal a 3-2 success – with two goals from substitute Edinson Cavani and one from Portuguese playmaker Bruno Fernandes.

Defeat meant Saints finally succumbed to a loss, having gone unbeaten in seven top-flight fixtures and picked up 17 points from a possible 21.

Speaking after the reverse against the Red Devils, Polish international Bednarek told the Daily Echo: “We are doing well but hard work will be the key now.

“I felt like we did very well in the first half. We had the game under control, they couldn’t create any chances.

“But in the second half I think we felt a little bit too comfortable and were a little too sloppy. That’s what happened there.

“Only one good half isn’t enough. We still managed to have some chances but it wasn’t enough.

“We still need to work very hard to get something.”

Uruguayan star Cavani came off the bench at half-time for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side to turn the contest on its head.

Asked what it was like to face up against the former Paris Saint Germain and Napoli ace, Bednarek replied: “He is a great, great player.

“He proved he doesn’t need many chances or much space to take in front of the goal, to score goals.

“We have to analyse that, take something from this game and learn what was wrong to make it well.

“We are in the right moment and we will work to get better.”

Saints make the trip to Brighton next Monday, looking to get back to winning ways at the earliest possible opportunity.

“It’s very important to show a reaction that we are still learning, we are still not the best team in the world and that’s how we have to do it,” added centre-half Bednarek.

“The next game will be very important to prove that we are in a good moment, that we are strong and we can show qualities.

“We know we can be dangerous for a lot of opposition and that’s what we will try to do week in, week out – to create problems for our opposition and show the same qualities as we did in the first half.”