Manchester United 2-0 Brighton: Five moments you may have missed from Old Trafford
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The Red Devils struggled in the first half of the encounter at Old Trafford, but were much improved in the second period, with Cristiano Ronaldo firing the hosts into the lead on 51 minutes.
Soon after, Lewis Dunk received a VAR-assisted red card for pulling back Anthony Elanga at the edge of the box, although it was a debatable decision with Adam Webster possibly sweeping in behind.
Following the dismissal, United enjoyed more of the ball and created a great one-on-one chance which Bruno Fernandes spurned, while Ronaldo went close again with an effort that was saved by Robert Sanchez.
Brighton did have two good chances when Jakub Moder hit the crossbar from distance, while ex-Red Devil Danny Welbeck headed over late on.
But in injury-time United made the most of a breakaway, with Fernandes’s dummy fooling Sanchez, and the Portuguese No.18 simply passed the ball into the back of the net.
However, away from the main moments, there’s plenty you could have missed from the game.
Pogba back among the assists
It was Paul Pogba who set up Fernandes’s late goal when he took a quick free-kick midway inside United’s half. That was his eighth assist of the season, and only Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah have provided more in the league.
That record is even more impressive given the midfielder missed three months of the campaign, while his late cameo helped push United towards a valuable three points.
His assist for Fernandes was also the fourth time he’s set up the 27-year-old this season, the highest combination between any two players in the Premier League.
Bissouma’s Old Trafford audition?
Brighton midfielder Yves Bissouma has regularly been linked with a move to Old Trafford in recent months, so Tuesday’s game could have been a first opportunity for United fans to see the Mali international in action.
Bissouma was impressive for spells in the first period and regularly managed to get a toe in to dispossess United players, while he also registered a shot near the end of the opening 45.
However, with Brighton a man down, United found it easier to keep the ball in the second half and as a result his performance suffered. Bissouma also had a long-running feud with Scott McTominay, with the pair engaging in a bit of pushing and shoving, while the Scotland international was booked for a late tackle on the Seagulls man.
What the stats say
At half-time, the statistics didn’t make good reading for United, with Brighton having 59% possession and registering eight shots to the Red Devils’ three.
But by the end United had managed 19 strikes, and amassed 49% possession. Ten corners to two also shows United had significantly more attacks.
However, despite playing nearly half of the game with 10 men, it was Brighton who completed more passes: 516 to 509.
Why didn’t Varane start?
When the sides were announced an hour before kick-off, Raphael Varane was named in the United starting line-up, but the Frenchman was forced to drop out during the warm-up due to illness.
It meant Victor Lindelof had to deputise for Varane, who is now a doubt for the trip to Elland Road at the weekend.
After an injury-impacted start to the campaign, United’s No.19 had previously started the last 10 in all competitions, a run which was brought to an end against Brighton.
The top-four picture
That win ensured the Red Devils moved back into the Champions League spots, leapfrogging West Ham United in the process.
However, it remains a tight contest with Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur now having three games in hand on United.
Ralf Rangnick’s side have picked up 43 points from 25 games and are just four points off third-place Chelsea.