Manchester United defeat 10 man Brighton to move into fourth place

(Football news) Having gone six games without scoring a goal, Cristiano Ronaldo got back on the scoresheet in style as Manchester United defeated Brighton 2-0 at Old Trafford to move into fourth place on the Premier League table. Ralf Rangnick made two changes to the side which drew 1-1 to Southampton as Anthony Elanga replaced Marcus Rashford while Fred replaced Paul Pogba in midfield. Brighton manager Graham Potter made three changes to the side that defeated Watford as Yves Bissouma, Alex Mac Allister and Leandro Trossard came in for Tariq Lamptey, Adam Lallana and Danny Welbeck.

Despite the 2-0 scoreline, the performance by Manchester United was not entirely convincing as Brighton had more than enough opportunities to get back into the game. Jakub Moder hit the crossbar while former Man Utd academy graduate Danny Welbeck missed a golden opportunity to find himself on the scoresheet after failing to hit the target with a header. Brighton’s Lewis Dunk's red card received a red card in the 54th minute but despite the setback, Graham Potter’s team enjoyed majority of the possession at Old Trafford and can definitely take positives from their performance. David De Gea was also responsible for keeping the hosts in the lead after denying Moder’s headed effort with a spectacular save with his outstretched right hand.

Brighton arguably played better football in the first half while Manchester United’s best effort came on the counter attack but Jadon Sancho couldn’t find the back of the net. Manchester United’s victory was largely due to Brighton’s mistakes as Ronaldo punished Yves Bissouma for losing possession in his own half while Dunk fouled Anthony Elanga after a poor first touch. It was United’s third victory in seven games but an important one as the Red Devils are now two points ahead of fifth place West Ham and in contention for a Champions League spot for next year. 

Following the trend of recent matches, Manchester United were wasteful in front of goal yet again as Cristiano Ronaldo could have had a hat-trick if he had found the back of the net with his head on two separate occasions in the second half. He also showed unselfishness in setting up Bruno Fernandes for Manchester United’s second goal as well. Ralf Rangnick will be concerned that Manchester United were outplayed by Brighton before the visitors were reduced to 10 men but will be pleased that his players showed greater intent to win the ball back which resulted in both the goals they scored after winning the ball back from the opposition. However, there is still a long way to go before their target of fourth place is assured and the team will have to improve if they want to play in the Champions League next season. 

Speaking after the match, Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick said “Everyone could see after the first half, it was not an easy game, they are very possession-based. It was difficult for us to get hold of the ball. We made a change and it paid off. In the second half, we were more aggressive and tried to intercept the ball. The question at half-time was do we change formation or how we attack. We decided to stick to 4-2-3-1 and told our wingers to attack their centre-backs. That meant our full-backs had to jump to their full-backs and that paid off. From then on, it was a different game."
Brighton manager Graham Potter said “I thought we were the better team in the first half. It is disappointing how the second half turned out. There is lots to be positive about and I am proud of the players. There is just a little bit of frustration there because it feels like a missed opportunity. It was a yellow card live, Adam Webster was round on the cover, it was not clear and obvious that he could not get there. So I cannot understand the intervention. The second goal is a foul on Alexis but it is what it is. It looked like a push but we have to accept it."

Also read: Bayern suffered a shock defeat against Bochum as Dortmund win


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