Manchester United are looking to shake off early cobwebs and pick up their first win of the Premier League season against an inspired Brighton & Hove Albion side. They were lucky to scrape through a 3-2 win thanks to a (literally) last minute penalty from Bruno Fernandes. Brighton dominated much of the first half and got the lead in the 40th minute after Bruno Fernandes conceded a penalty, which Neil Maupey cheekily converted.
But United bounced back almost immediately, with a clever set-piece routine allowing Harry Maguire to equalize with a cheeky tap-in before half-time. Well actually turns out it’s a Lewis Dunk own-goal, but the Red Devils will take that! United then had to endure some VAR drama early in the second half before Marcus Rashford put them into the lead in the 54th minute, gliding past multiple players before scoring his first of the season.
The Red Devils put their feet off the peddle and allowed Brighton to completely dominate them after that and were made to pay, as Solly March headed in the equalizer in the 95th minute to snatch a late point.
ONLY THEY DIDN’T! United piled on one last throw of the dice and were awarded a last-minute penalty when Maupey handled the ball and forced the referee to restart a game he had already ended with a final whistle! Fernandes stepped up and made no mistakes, winning it at the very end.
But that was still a poor performance from United and honestly they probably didn’t deserve all three points. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer & co were fortunate to survive a scare and get the win, but United need to improve a lot to maintain any form of consistency in the coming games.
Manchester United Player Ratings
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (5.0) –
Questionable lineup from Solskjaer to play on Lindelof, one gamble which paid off really well as the Swede defender put in a great performance. But his tactics after taking the lead, to park the bus and allow his players to slack off was awful. Almost made to pay with Brighton’s (deserved) late equalizer but bailed out by that last-gasp penalty. Needs to demand his players to be more aggressive and forceful with their work or else more trouble awaits United’s way.
David de Gea (6.0) –
De Gea was unlucky to have to face his second penalty in as many games but poor positioning, anticipation from him allowed Maupey to score the Panenka too easily. Threatened all game long but makes a crucial save in stoppage time to deny Brighton an equalizer. Only to see Brighton get it few minutes later. Lucky to get the win, but De Gea seems to be getting better with Henderson competing with him.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (5.5)-
United will be happy to have the tackling machine back in their backline. Lost the ball too easily allowing Brighton to transition into winning the penalty. Made a number of great tackles but looked vulnerable to crosses and couldn’t match pace with March, eventually losing track of him for his goal. Needs some more games to get back to his best.
Harry Maguire (6.0) –
Maguire looks more composed than last week with his defensive work and also with his passing. Scores a rare goal to equalize the game for United with a clever tap-in from close. Turns out it’s an own-goal, but he definitely pressured Dunk to make that tap-in. Made a lot of clearances to deflect Brighton’s attacks and influenced winning the penalty as it was his header that struck Maupey’s hands & convinced VAR to grant it. Still shaky on some aspects which he needs to improve.
Victor Lindelof (6.5) –
Lucky to start today after the horrendous display against Palace last week. Looks much better today and was solid with his timely clearances in the first half. Lindelof made a number of brilliant challenges to parry away dangerous opportunities and thankfully didn’t make any more errors. Looked more composed and ‘Iceman’ esque and was arguably United’s best defender today.
Luke Shaw (4.5) –
The left-back has a tough battle against the electric Tariq Lamptey. Looks very shaky defending against him and ultimately his inability to contain the right-back caused Fernandes to foul Lamptey to concede the penalty. Allowed too many crosses to come through his side, looked nervous defensively and nonexistent going forward again. Needs to improve or could lose his place soon.
Nemanja Matic (7.5) –
Matic is back into the lineup and already seems to be asserting his authority strongly. Gets a clever assist after popping up in the back post and forcing the equalizer. He definitely helped United lose their wits completely defensively, making some crucial interceptions, tackles and winning back the ball many times. Such a pivotal part of ensuring Lindelof/Maguire don’t disintegrate under pressure and that showed with his impressive showing today.
Paul Pogba (5.0) –
Pogba looks a bit intimidated under the intense pressing and physicality of the game, but is still passing around the ball well early on. Lacking that ‘special something’ in the game so far in the first half. Very poor defensively again and lacked that energy to press the midfielders or win back possession. Subbed after the hour-mark following another average performance.
Bruno Fernandes (7.5) –
Bit wasteful with his creativity in the final third early on. Nearly saw his cross creep into the net in the 19th. Poor challenge to bring down Lamptey inside the box for Brighton’s penalty. Makes up for his error with his whipped free-kick perfectly allowing Matic to tee up Maguire’s equalizer. Picks out Rashford with a brilliant through-ball to assist his strike.
He worked the hardest with his pressing and defensive work and was fortunately rewarded at the absolute end, scoring the penalty to win all three points for United.
Mason Greenwood (6.5) –
Greenwood was brilliant the last time United played Brighton. Can he replicate his heroics today? Not really, but not a bad effort. Wastes a great opportunity in the 17th but shooting way wide from a wide-angle when he should’ve passed it to someone else. Unlucky to have his goal+assist ruled out today, but he looked promising with the ball and opened up a few chances for United.
Anthony Martial (4.5) –
The Frenchman needs to be more proactive around the penalty area today. Hardly saw much of the ball in the first-half, but showcased impressive feet after the half-hour to force Greenwood’s disallowed goal. After that, his game completely fell off. Lost possession cheaply, wasted promising opportunities, showed little energy and got bullied by the defenders. A very lacklustre performance.
Marcus Rashford (7.5) –
Rashford’s yet to rediscover his brilliant form from the first half of last season and looks a bit cagey today too. Almost assisted a goal after the half-hour mark but was judged offside after completing a slick move. And again offside by a bit when he manages to score from close in the 52nd.
But makes no mistake finishing off a great counter-attack two minutes later, blitzing his way past multiple bodies before coolly slotting the ball into the net. Still needs to sharpen a few aspects of his game, but he looked much more dangerous with his work today & troubled Brighton’s defenders with his work.
Fred (6.0) –
Inserted a boost in energy levels after coming on and pressed Brighton into regaining possession at times. Looked a bit troubled by the physicality of the game, but had a nice cameo in midfield.
Eric Bailly (N/R) –
Bailly made a few typical wild challenges after coming on, but couldn’t clear the ball leading to March’s goal.
Donny Van de Beek (N/R) –
Came on for a very short time, but looked promising with his movement in the final third.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Bruno Fernandes might’ve conceded the penalty, but definitely stepped up after that. Worked his socks off to inspire his teammates, made a great assist and scored the decisive penalty to get United the win. He’s my MOTM today.