Brighton 4, Manchester United 0
Brighton were gifted their fourth home win of the season by a lackadaisical Manchester United as they thrashed the Reds 4-0.Embed from Getty Images
The game would have been easily labelled as one of United’s worst performances of the season had they not already been thrashed 5-0 at Old Trafford by Liverpool, 4-1 by Manchester City, and 4-1 at Watford – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s last game.
Interim United boss Ralf Rangnick, who is making way for Ajax manager Erik ten Hag at the end of the season could only apologise to travelling supporters – many of whom had already left the Amex by the end of their latest humbling this season – as United must now wait a fortnight until they can play their last game of the season at Crystal Palace and put this forgettable season behind them.
He said: “In all areas we were second best from the first to the last minute.
“Monday [against Brentford] was a completely different game, today we gave them [Brighton] too much time and too much space and we could not stop them from playing through our lines.
“As a team we did not defend well at all.
“If you allow them that much space and time it was easy for them to play their game.
“After 60 minutes it was a disaster.”
Moises Caicedo and Marc Cucurella opened their accounts for the Seagulls while Pascal Gross and Leandro Trossard scored to seal Brighton’s record top flight scoreline in front of a record 31,367 attendance at the Amex.
The Seagulls had only scored 12 Premier League goals at home this term but they managed to hit four on their penultimate home fixture of the season.
And with 56 goals conceded so far United have now got their worst defensive record in the league since at least 1979 and will finish the season with their worst ever points tally in the Premier League.
Some United fans in the stadium held a protest against the Glazers but they were soon stunned by an early start for Brighton who scored after 15 minutes.
Caicedo smashed a 25 yard effort to break the deadlock at the Amex after United failed to clear an earlier chance for the Seagulls which allowed the Ecuadorian to punish the Reds with his first goal for Brighton.
The ball went through Victor Lindelof past an unsighted David De Gea after Alex Telles failed to clear the loose ball with a header and was forced to block Pascal Gross’ shot but could do nothing about the follow-up.
At 20 years and 186 days, Caicedo became the 3rd youngest Premier League goalscorer for Brighton – after Aaron Connolly and Tariq Lamptey – and also became the 100th player to score their first ever Premier League goal against the Reds.
Gross was blocked by Lindelof and Leandro Trossard shot wide as Brighton threatened a second goal.
Ronaldo, who had been a peripheral figure, put a free kick over the bar but calamitous defending by Varane allowed ex-United player Danny Welbeck a massive chance which he had to take in a hurry and let David De Gea off the hook with a shot that was wayward.
Half time reshuffle fails as Manchester United thrashed 4-0 at Brighton
Fred and Edinson Cavani were brought on at half time as Ralf Rangnick reshuffled his side. With Anthony Elanga and Nemanja Matic made way.
United frustrations continued after 49 minutes as Marc Cucurella doubled the home lead after converting the unmarked Trossard’s cut back with a shot into the roof of the net for his first Brighton goal as well.
Things went from bad to worse after 57 minutes when Gross notched Brighton’s third following a great long ball by Robert Sanchez to release Cucurella who continued a move that ended Trossard carving United open to allow Gross time to pick his spot with Varane and Lindelof stranded.
And the game was up after an hour when Trossard scrambled in the fourth on the goal line after Danny Welbeck ran into space, drew De Gea out and picked out his team mate.
A VAR check for handball concluded that there was no clear and obvious handball in the build-up and the goal rightfully stood.
Alexis Mac Allister saw his shot deflected into the outside of the post by Diogo Dalot, who at least had a go against Brighton, which could have made it 5-0 against a thoroughly dispirited Reds side.
Bruno Fernandes saw his shot blocked and saw another chance punched away as United briefly rallied.
Harry Maguire was brought on after 70 minutes and he forced a save from Robert Sanchez before prodding the rebound goalwards only to see to see Cavani prod the ball in from an offside position.
The margin of victory for Brighton could have been even wider as United’s hosts were wasteful in front of goal with further chances from Welbeck and Joe Veltman going begging.
And the resulting ignominy could see United – who can’t finish higher than 6th – conceivably finishing as low as 8th at the end of the season – not even qualifying for the Europa Conference League – if results go against them in the remaining two weeks.
MATCH STATS – Brighton 4, Manchester United 0
Brighton: Sanchez, Veltman, Dunk, Cucurella, March (Lamptey 76), Bissouma, Caicedo, Trossard (Maupay 83), Gross, Mac Allister (Webster 67), Welbeck
Brighton Subs not used: Steele, Lamptey, Lallana, Alzate, Duffy, Offiah, Ferguson
Goals: Caicedo 15, Cucurella 49; Gross 57; Trossard 60
Man Utd: De Gea, Dalot, Lindelof, Varane, Telles, McTominay, Matic (Cavani 46), Elanga (Fred 46), Mata (Maguire 70), Fernandes, Ronaldo
Man Utd Subs not used: Henderson, Jones, Lingard, Wan-Bissaka, Fernandez, Garnacho
Booked: Ronaldo 44 (foul on Lewis Dunk); Dalot (foul on Alexis Mac Allister)
Referee: Andy Madley