Manchester United 2-1 Brighton: Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford combine to complete the turnaround
Danny Welbeck was not always as clinical as he was during his years at Manchester United, but he rarely managed to make contact with the ball from just ten feet. So why did he do that here?
With the game at 1-1 with 20 minutes to go and Brighton looking for a lead Welbeck had given them in the first half, the 30-year-old moved on to a square pass from Neal Maupay.
He seemed destined to push the ball into the empty goal until Manchester United captain Harry Maguire challenged him from behind.
Mason Greenwood scored a late winner when Manchester United took a 2-1 comeback win against Brighton on Sunday evening
Marcus Rashford equalized for United in the second half with a cool finish after being beaten by playmaker Bruno Fernandes
Former Red Devil Danny Welbeck had given the Seagulls an early lead and the visitors were rightly ahead at half time
A key moment at 1-1 saw Welbeck unable to stretch for a finish amid a possible foul from Harry Maguire, which was not given.
MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER REVIEWS
Manchester United: (4-3-3): Henderson 5; Wan-Bissaka 6, Maguire 5.5, Lindelof 6, Shaw 6; Fred 5.5, Pogba 6 (McTominay 84 minutes 6); Rashford 6.5 (James 72 minutes 6), Fernandes 6, Greenwood 7; Cavani 6 (Van de Beek 81 minutes 6). Not used: De Gea, Amad, Matic, Williams, Tuanzebe.
Targets: Rashford 63, Greenwood 83
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: 6
Brighton: (3-4-1-2): Sanchez 6; White 6, Dunk 6.5, Veltman 6; Gross 6, Bissouma 6, Lallana 6.5 (Jahanbakhsh 87 minutes 6), Moder 6.5 (Izquierdo 87 minutes 6); Trossard 6.5 (MacAllister 63 minutes 6); Welbeck 6.5, Maupay 6.5. Not used: Steele, Karbownik, Alzatre, Propper, Caicedo, Zeqiri.
Goals: Welbeck 13
Graham Potter: 6
Referee: Mike Dean 5
Man of the match: Mason Greenwood
Maguire, half a meter back, couldn’t reach the ball, but with the help of a hand on his opponent’s shoulder and his weight in his back, he managed to push Welbeck away from contact.
Good defense or an offense? Instinct said wrong.
But referee Mike Dean said no and, after a brief moment of consideration, VAR officials agreed.
United could thus continue on an equal footing and with a full number of players. If there had been an offense, Maguire would certainly have been sent away.
Twice luck, and United went on to make the most of it by winning the game.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team was scratchy at best here. Poorly in the first half, United didn’t get a shot on goal, while Welbeck’s header at the Stretford End gave Brighton the edge they deserved.
There could have been at least one more goal for Graham Potter’s side.
United did improve and earned Marcus Rashford’s equalizer just after the hour.
Mason Greenwood, their best player, won the game for them with a header at death, but to claim they deserved it would stretch it a bit.
In some ways, the events here were not atypical for any of these teams.
United – although they are second – often don’t look as good as their league position suggests. Brighton, meanwhile, can play football, which makes you wonder why they spent all two seasons of Potter in charge somewhere at the bottom of the table.
Brighton was certainly good for their lead. United, after Greenwood hit a post early on, created nothing at all until Rashford’s equalizer.
Greenwood’s attempt came in the eighth minute, beating Brighton goalkeeper Robert Sanchez when he bumped into the foot of his left hand.
It was a real strike, but other than that United was flat. Paul Pogba and Brazilian Fred were unable to assert any real authority in the middle, while Bruno Fernandes improved late in the match.
Solskjaer’s team was clumsy, while Brighton was more flexible. The visiting team had more purpose in their game and only lacked a clinical atmosphere in front of the goal.
Brighton moved on, but were then by far the better team for the rest of the first half as United struggled
Dean Henderson kept his place in goal for United with David de Gea on the bench amid their battle for the number 1 shirt
Welbeck’s goal would have felt satisfying for more than one reason. He’s an old boy, of course. But at this stage of the season, the stories are not about sentiment, but about necessity
As such, his fourth goal of the campaign, headed in after Dean Henderson saved his first scoreless try, gave his team a foothold in the game they were desperate for.
Henderson – preferred here over David de Gea – actually did a brilliant job of saving Welbeck’s first header from a Maupay cross. He was unlucky that the ball simply fell back onto his opponent’s forehead.
Other than that, the goalkeeper was inconclusive. He tapped a Lewis Dunk header over the bar in the 19th minute, but that was routine. More noticeable were two fumbles from corners. He got away with both, but the incidents seem to betray a bit of nervousness.
Brighton were much the better side in the first half at Old Trafford as they oppressed with an organized setup and smart links
After a relatively quiet rise to that point, Rashford came to life to fire the home side with an impressive finish
The central areas became crucial in the game and Brighton occasionally shadowed that battle. When they won the ball, they were able to force themselves on United through the runs of players like Adam Lallana.
Twice the former Liverpool player made United’s back four nervous with his directness and on the second occasion, just before half time, Maguire faced Maupay as he tried to advance to his team-mate’s pass. From the corner that followed, Jakub Moder fired wide.
United just had to improve and they did. They were slightly better in the second half. Still vulnerable without the ball, but better nonetheless.
After leveling his team, Rashford was withdrawn in the second half and went straight through the tunnel for treatment
Rashford was coolness personified when he threw home the equalizer after Fernandes’ pass to get him into the build-up
They equalized just after the hour and threatened to do so. Brighton didn’t seem to be able to grab and break the ball as easily as before and as such started to look a little boxed in as United’s passing kept tightening.
The goal was finished well by Rashford, the forward who opened his body to score right-legged over Sanchez after Fernandes played him in from the left.
Referee Dean appeared to have committed a foul after a late challenge to Fernandes, but seemed to drop the goal after that. It was a bit strange, but in the end the right decision.
Greenwood reacted the fastest, claiming United’s all-important winner for just his second league goal of the 2020-21 season
It wasn’t the best showing for United, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was delighted to secure another hard-fought victory.
United now insisted with a little more intention. Aaron Wan-Bissaka rushed to the right and fed Greenwood who shot wide of the front post without interrupting the pass. Then a 25-meter Fred shot hit a Brighton boot and flew over.
United’s winner came with seven minutes to go and was scrappy. A cross from Fernandes on the left was knocked to the ground by Pogba and headed in by Greenwood.
By then the real talking point of the game had come and gone.
Relive the action as it happened with Sportsmail below: