Manchester United vs Brighton Match Analysis

Manchester United put their poor form behind them and came out with all three points against Brighton. Goals from Portuguese duo Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes saw United climb back into the top four. Brighton defender Lewis Dunk was sent off in the second half, after he brought down Anthony Elanga, who was through on goal.

First Half: Brighton dominate the midfield

Reds boss Ralph Rangnick made three changes to the side, who drew to Southampton at the weekend. Initially, Elanga and Fred were the only changes, however Raphael Varane withdrew from the side after the warmup. Victor Lindelof came in for Varane, who according to reports is suffering from illness.

In recent weeks, the Red Devils have been excellent in the first half and short of confidence in the second. Typically, the first half consists of Rangnick’s men creating chance after chance, but going in at half time with only a narrow advantage. Then as the game goes on, the opposition grow into the game and get the all-important equaliser. However, this match was extremely different.

United began the game in a much more passive manner with less of a high press. Brighton began the game as if they were the home side, while United were set up like an away side playing on the counter. With Fred back in the side, the Reds were set up in a much more balanced manner. However, the Seagulls were allowed to dictate proceedings and this put pressure on the United backline. During the early stages of the match, David de Gea was called into action to prevent his side from going behind.

De Gea makes sensational save to deny Moder

At the other end of the pitch, Jadon Sancho should have put the Reds 1-0 up. Sancho went for goal, when he should have given the ball to either Ronaldo or Fernandes, who were wide open. The visitors thought they were ahead when Jakub Moder rose highest in the United box. His towering header looked destined for the back of the net, but de Gea made yet another remarkable save. From Brighton’s perspective it had been a superb first 45 minutes. However, Rangnick would have gone into halftime knowing his side would have to produce something else in the second half. The German boss signalled to his players to change from a 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1 before the hour mark and this was a clear sign that United’s plan was not working.

Second half: Fernandes dents ambitions of 10-man Brighton

The second half saw a much more aggressive and direct Manchester United side competing with Brighton in every duel. Six minutes into the second half and the Reds were ahead at Old Trafford. Some pressing from Scott McTominay and Sancho saw the ball find it’s way into the path of Cristiano Ronaldo. United’s number seven unleashed a powerful strike, which flew past Robert Sanchez. The Portugal international had five Brighton defenders around him but still managed to get his shot off. After waves of criticism in recent weeks, Ronaldo responded in emphatic fashion.

Minutes later and things went from bad to worse for the visitors. Dunk brought down dynamic winger Elanga, who got goal side of the defender and was now bearing down on Martinez. Initially, Dunk was given a yellow, which erected huge anger from both the Old Trafford faithful. The United players were furious with the decision and eventually VAR intervened. Dunk was sent off and the visitors were now in trouble.

The Reds created several chances, with Martinez making two smart saves to deny Ronaldo and Fernandes from close range. Ronaldo also got on the end of an inviting cross from his Portuguese teammate, but headed narrowly wide. However, with minutes remaining the scoreline remained 0-0. United were given a late scare when Brighton hit the bar from range and Danny Welbeck’s saw his header fly over. Deep into stoppage time, substitute Paul Pogba sent Fernandes through on goal. Bruno faked a shot to send both the keeper and defender before finding the back of the net with ease. Relief for all United fans, who finally got the result they needed to resurrect their push for the top four. Pogba, who came on to restore some control in the match, put in a magnificent cameo.

What’s next for the sides?

Rangnick will now turn his side’s attention to their Premier League encounter against Leeds United on Sunday. The Reds need to put a string of results together in order to ensure their place in next year’s UEFA Champions League. After Leeds, United will travel to Spain for their European battle against Atletico Madrid. Brighton on the other hand will host Burnley in the league on Saturday.

Author: Rajan Sangha

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