Manchester United consolidated their stronghold on second place in the Premier League table with a gritty 2-1 win over a stubborn Brighton side at Old Trafford. However, it was Brighton who took a shock lead against the run of play when former United man Danny Welbeck headed in from close range in the 13th minute.
United dominated all the possession after that and finally got their equalizer in the 61st minute when Marcus Rashford smoothly sliced the ball into the bottom corner. The Red Devils kept pressing and got their second in the 83red when Mason Greenwood scored a diving header from close to end his long goal drought in the Premier League.
The Red Devils were (thankfully) able to hold onto their lead and grind out a win after a game of two halves & not their bestest performance. Still three points are what matter and it now gets United 11 points clear off fifth-placed Liverpool and 4 off the third-placed Leicester City. A few more similar wins & the second-place finish should be sealed.
Manchester United player ratings vs Brighton
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (7.0)–
Solskjaer raised a few eyebrows with starting Rashford, Greenwood and Lindelof but eventually it worked well as two out of those three scored! United were sloppy and lethargic in the first half, but his pep talk at half-time definitely worked wonders as the boys came out the second half firing on all cylinders and completed another comeback!
The Red Devils have now won 25 points from losing positions under him this season, proving how he’s slowly but surely reigniting that comeback spirit in the team. His late subs and certain in-game decisions remain questionable, but Ole did well to motivate his side to complete the turnaround and grind out a win.
Dean Henderson (6.5) –
Big game for Hendo after he is chosen ahead of David de Gea in the No.1 role. Tried his best to save Welbeck’s strike with a fantastic save of his initial header only to see the rebound go in. Sharp save to deny Dunk’s booming header in the 18th. Didn’t really have much to do after that, but it’ll be interesting to see if this performance warrants him to keep starting ahead of De Gea.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (5.0) –
Wan-Bissaka did Lindelof no favors for the goal and was too slow to reach to Welbeck’s movement, allowing him to get two attempts before scoring. Somewhat made up for it with a terrific clearance to deny Brighton an equalizer late on. In between all that, he was a bit sloppy defensively and still frustrating with his output in the final third.
Harry Maguire (7.5) –
Maguire makes his 100th appearance for United today and looks the most defensively stable guy out there for them today. Makes a clutch clearance to deny Brighton a second before half-time. Bit lucky not to concede a penalty after a bit of a silly challenge on Welbeck in the 70th.
But apart from that, he didn’t put a foot wrong and was very solid defensively – bailing his teammates out of trouble with 6 key clutch clearances and countering Brighton’s long balls very well. Solid performance in his 100th appearance for the club.
Victor Lindelof (7.0) –
Lindelof doesn’t look that sharp from the get-go and lost presence of Welbeck for his strike, not being able to clear the cross or mark the striker. To his credit, he didn’t really do anything wrong apart from that slight error and cut out a lot of Brighton’s dangerous moves with swift challenges and clever positioning. Helped his side preserve the lead well too late on.
Luke Shaw (6.5) –
Looks full of menace with his barging forward runs. Could’ve defended better for the opener as the cross did come through his side. But Shaw remained a vigorous figure down the left, going up & down all the time and looking very confident with his general play. Another compelling performance from the league’s best LB.
Paul Pogba (8.0) –
First start for Pogba since early February! Snuck in a great scoring area in the 38th but his shot went horribly wide. Made a glorious pass to send Bruno through on goal at the hour-mark but unlucky not to get an assist for that. Did get his assist when his scuffed attempt found Greenwood to head in from close range.
Pogba did a solid job as United’s creative engine today, opening up a lot of opportunities with his smart passing, doing his job defensively and of course setting up the winner before being subbed.
Fred (7.5) –
After a stinker against Leicester, Fred looks much more composed with his pressing and passing today. The Brazilian midfielder matched Brighton’s tempo superbly and read their play to make some terrific interceptions & start counter-attacks. Worked well with Pogba to cut out the opposition midfielders flow and passed the ball around smoothly. Redeems himself from last game’s nightmare.
Bruno Fernandes (8.0) –
If Bruno’s really rallying for that Golden Boot, this is the kind of game he must score in. Crept into open space inside the box in the 60th ut couldn’t sneak the ball past the goalkeeper. After working really hard, Bruno set up Rashford’s strike with a well-timed last minute pass to get his 11th PL assist of the season.
Then nearly scored in the 76th when his powered shot was spilled by Robert Sanchez but unlucky not to see anyone score off the rebound. Did well to find Pogba and allow him to equalize Greenwood’s strike. Even after a sloppy first half & going goalless, Bruno still created 5 chances, got 3 shots on target & acted like a leader to help his side complete the comeback.
Mason Greenwood (7.5) –
Greenwood nearly gets an early goal but see his whipped right-footed shot hit the bar in the 8th. Then got another surprising shot after Rashford’s goal that went wide. Takes another swipe at goal in the 72nd but his weak attempt is collected comfortably. Couldn’t react sharply enough to score from the rebound o Bruno’s shot in the 76th.
After a lot of trying, he finally found the target when his smart diving header went through Sanchez into the net. That finish and his work down the middle is more proof that he needs to play centrally! Slowly but surely getting back to his best at the right point of the campaign.
Edinson Cavani (4.0) –
Even after getting a two-week break from competition, Cavani looks surprisingly lethargic and fluffed some good opportunities for United in the first half with poor passes and positioning. Couldn’t do anything threatening today. His link-up play, pressing and positioning was too sloppy. Subbed late on.
Marcus Rashford (7.5) –
Rashford passes a late fitness test to make this one. After being frustrating in the first half, he woke up in the second and tested the Brighton keeper with a whipped shot in the 51st that was saved.
He didn’t miss when Bruno played him through, smoothly slicing the ball into the bottom corner. Had to go off soon after that after not moving sharply but a superb second-half showing nonetheless.
Dan James (5.0) –
The Welshman played in both wings but was extremely inefficient, not being able to match Rashford’s impactfulness and making sloppy fouls.
Donny van de Beek (N/R) –
Van de Beek again only got a few minutes of playing time and saw very little of the possession, only closing down spaces for the Brighton midfielders.
Scott McTominay (N/R) –
Helped his side hold their lead and see out the result late on.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Both goals today came from United’s youth academy products, but I’ll give this one to another academy lad aka Paul Pogba. He ruled things in midfield, kept his side charging forward, created a lot of chances and set up the winner! Could’ve had more if the finishing from the forwards was a bit more efficient but awesome to see him playing this well again!