Manchester United 3, Brighton 1
Manchester United went back to 7th in the Premier League after an encouraging 3-1 victory against Brighton at Old Trafford.Embed from Getty Images
Two early goals for United, a deflected Andreas Pereira shot and a Davy Propper own goal, gave United control of the first half after a lengthy VAR delay.
After the break Lewis Dunk’s header gave Brighton hope briefly before Marcus Rashford restored the Reds’ two goal lead but the United forward also contrived to miss an open goal amongst several other chances to put the game beyond the Seagulls.
One blot of the afternoon saw Scott McTominay limp off the pitch at the very end with a worrying injury.
Brandon Williams made his first Premier League start for Manchester United while Andreas Pereira made his 50th appearance for the Reds as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made five changes from the 3-0 win over Partizan Belgrade on Thursday.
David De Gea, Victor Lindelof, Daniel James were the other changes for the Reds as Solskjaer named a young starting line-up.
At 23 years and 350 days the average age of the United starting line-up was the youngest in the Premier League this season and United’s youngest since a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace in May 2017.
Despite the presence of De Gea in the team Harry Maguire was named the captain of Manchester United – perhaps a sign of things to come.
Ashley Young was suspended while Sergio Romero, Marcos Rojo, Juan Mata, and Mason Greenwood started on the bench.
And United had a game on their hands with Leandro Trossard and Aaron Connolly trying to get at them down the flanks.
But the Reds had the initiative in the game, with Scott McTominay’s shot saved, Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s cross blocked by Lewis Dunk despite a shout for handball as the defender grounded himself, and a fierce shot by Marcus Rashford saved by Mathew Ryan after he slalomed inside.
And they quickly turned chances into goals with two in two minutes as Dunk had a nightmare sequence of mishaps.
Andreas Pereira’s shot deflected in off Dale Stephens to wrongfoot Mathew Ryan after Anthony Martial cut the ball back to the midfielder in the 17th minute – his first goal of the season.
Davy Propper’s attempted clearance of the loose ball went past his own keeper under pressure from Scott McTominay from Fred’s free kick which had been given away by Dunk who slid in on James.
There was a VAR delay to check for a possible handball, with Dunk involved, but the goal eventually stood.
And Dunk seemed to clumsily bring Rashford down in the area as he tried to find space, but no penalty was given.
Shane Duffy deflected Trossard’s cross wide as Brighton tried to get back into the game, the Irish defender later clattered Marcus Rashford as the visitors tried to re-impose themselves on the game.
Connolly headed a Trossard cross over that bar while free in the box while Dunk headed over a James cross meant for Rashford and Duffy headed away Pereira’s corner.
Montya and Connolly were replaced at half time by Solly March and Glenn Murray as Brighton tried to change things around.
But it was United who retained the upper hand with Pereira having shots either side of the break.
Brandon Williams had been lectured in the first half for a petulant push on Neal Maupay but he was subject of a VAR check for a red card after a tangle with Steven Alzate which was quickly dismissed.
United go up a gear in the second half to rain shots on Brighton goal
Old Trafford awoke from its slumber for a thrilling final quarter as United upped a gear after Brighton threatened to ruin their day.
Rashford fired wide after a crossfield pass by James while Fred’s rising shot was tipped against his own bar by Ryan.
Maupay stretched but couldn’t reach Pascal Gross’ header before David De Gea collected the ball as Brighton rallied.
Gross’s corner was then converted by Dunk’s firm header as he got between Pereira and Maguire in the 65th minute.
But less than a minute later United went down the other end and put the game beyond Brighton when Fred released Anthony Martial and his cutback was rifled into the roof of the net off the crossbar by Rashford from 12 yards – his 9th goal of the season.
But Rashford contrived to shoot wide of an open goal from 6 yards, unmarked, after Pereira released James down the right and the Welsh winger laid the ball on the plate for the England striker in the 69th minute.
Martial’s cutback found Brandon Williams in a shooting position and his shot was saved by Ryan.
Ryan then pulled off a great save from James’ 6 yard volley as Rashford crossed from the left as the Reds looked to finish off the Seagulls in the 72nd minute.
And the Brighton keeper bravely saved at his near post as Rashford tried to blast the ball in from wide on the left after going past Propper.
Anthony Martial forced Ryan into a save as the Seagulls were forced onto the back foot for much of the last 15 minutes.
And Rashford exchanged passes with Martial only to fire wide of the back post from wide on the left before Solskjaer decided to bring off Williams and Martial for well deserved rounds of applause from Old Trafford as the game went into added time.
But the Reds finished with ten men after McTominay limped off right before the end, unable to put weight on his left foot after a heavy challenge.
GOALS – Manchester United 3, Brighton 1
Man Utd 1, Brighton 0: 17. Andreas Pereira’s shot deflected in off Dale Stephens to wrongfoot Matthew Ryan after Anthony Martial cut the ball back to the midfielder.
Man Utd 2, Brighton 0: 19. Davy Propper put the ball into his own net while trying to clear Fred’s free kick after the ball appeared to come off Lewis Dunk’s arm as he challenged with Harry Maguire. But VAR checked to loud boos from Old Trafford which soon turned to cheers after the goal was eventually given.
Man Utd 2, Brighton 1: 65. Pascal Gross’ corner was headed in from 6 yards by Lewis Dunk after the United marking went to sleep.
Man Utd 3, Brighton 1: 66. Fred released Anthony Martial and his cutback was rifled into the roof of the net off the crossbar by Marcus Rashford from 12 yards.
MATCH STATS – Manchester United 3, Brighton 1
Man Utd: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Maguire (C), Lindelof, Williams (Rojo 90), McTominay, Fred, James, Pereira (Lingard 70), Rashford, Martial (Greenwood 90)
Man Utd Subs not used: Romero, Jones, Mata, Garner
Booked: Rashford 45 (foul), Williams 58 (bad foul on Steven Alzate)
Goals: Pereira 17, Propper 19 og, Rashford 66
Brighton: Ryan, Montoya (March 46), Duffy, Dunk (C), Burn, Alzate, Propper, Stephens, Trossard (Gross 60), Maupay, Connolly (Murray 46)
Brighton Subs not used: Button, Balogun, Mooy, Schelotto
Booked: Stephens 5 (foul on Andreas Pereira), Dunk 19 (foul on Daniel James), Montoya 30 (foul on Marcus Rashford), Burn 45+1 (foul on Daniel James), Propper 74 (trip on Jesse Lingard)
Goal: Dunk 65
Referee: Jonathan Moss