MAN UNITED 1, BRIGHTON 0
Jose Mourinho admitted being too attack minded may have backfired on Manchester United as they struggled to beat Brighton at Old Trafford.
They fielded Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, but were indebted to an own goal from Lewis Dunk to overcome the Seagulls.
United’s manager said: “Sometimes you can play with too many attacking players and you lose control of the game as it left Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic without cover.
“It can give more creation as it did against Newcastle, but our creation today was not good.”
Mourinho admitted United were far from their best, but was fulsome in his praise of the Seagulls who were unlucky to leave empty handed after nullifying the threat from the Reds’ impressive attacking line up.
Mourinho said: “It was a battle from the first minute to the last, they are a good side.
“Defending well is important and they defended very, very well as well as being dangerous on the counter attack.They have quick wingers and put a number of crosses across the face of goal.
“I have to praise them as they have a team and manager who a few months ago were playing in the Championship and they gave us the biggest problems.
“They played well and we didn’t play well, though I am happy with the attitude of my players.”
Brighton manager Chris Hughton was “incredibly disappointed” and thought his side deserved a point.
“I was frustrated with the goal as we had an opportunity to clear and didn’t think it was a corner. It was the manner of the goal that was very disappointing,” he said.
United were unchanged from the side that kicked off against Newcastle as Mourinho again went with an attack-minded team.
Brighton, with an important game against Crystal Palace on Tuesday, made only one change from Monday’s 2-2 draw against Stoke as Soloman March was preferred to Jose Izquierdo.
This was the first meeting between the two teams since 1993 when United beat the Seagulls 1-0 at Old Trafford in the fourth round of the FA Cup. And their last league meeting was a 1-1 home draw in 1983.
Lukaku ballooned a shot well over in the second minute when he ought to have hit the target.
Brighton made a lively opening as Anthony Knockaert pulled a shot wide and Pascal Gross fired low and hard at David De Gea following a cut back.
The Seagulls were disciplined with two banks of four in defence and midfield denying space to United who struggled to create openings.
Brighton came close to snatching a 38th minute lead through Murray who just failed to connect with a free header from Glenn Murray from inside he six-yard box after a free kick was flicked on by Bruno Salter.
United’s first clear-cut chance came in the 44th minute when Seaglls’ keeper Matthew Ryan made a brilliant double save to deny Lukaku and Paul Pogba, both from point-blank range.
The stalemate continued well into the second half, forcing Mourinho to bring on Zlatan Ibrahimovic for Juan Mata just after the hour.
The breakthrough finally came in the 66th minute, but with a huge slice of good fortune.
A corner, that Brighton disputed, was cleared to Young on the edge of the box and his shot took a massive deflection off Lewis Dunk as it looped over Ryan into the net. While Young initially claimed it, it was later given as an own goal.
United’s second change with 19 minutes left saw Martial replaced by Henrikh Mkhitaryan and the last one with 10 minutes saw Marouane Felliani take over from the injured Rashford.
Brighton had a chance when centre-back Shane Duffy, up for a free kick, headed narrowly wide.
United saved their best until last as in the 89th minute they put together a slick first-touch move that ended with Ibrahimovic firing narrowly wide.