Player Ratings, Reaction and Highlights : Manchester United 2-1 Brighton

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Manchester United came from behind to claim an important victory – they were behind at half-time without a shot on target, but a resilient fightback in the second half strengthened their hold on second place and a place in the top 4.

United looked quite bright in the opening exchanges; when Greenwood hit the post with a very smart effort in the eighth minute, it seemed as though it could be an exciting game. But in the 13th minute the hosts were caught cold – a cross found Danny Welbeck who had found space behind Lindelof and in front of Wan-Bissaka. This has been a very profitable area for opponents in the last 18 months and so it proved again – Henderson did well to save the first effort, but Welbeck reacted quicker than either of the defenders to tap in.

And then came the vacuum we have seen all too often. Brighton needed to be organised but not brilliant to completely render United’s attack toothless. Pogba’s passing was all over the place, Fernandes was having one of his poorer days, whilst Rashford and Cavani could not get in to the game. Brighton were happy for United’s defenders, or Fred, to have the ball, knowing that they were unlikely to pose a threat, and indeed it was Graham Potter’s men who had the better chance for a second goal in this game before half-time when Moder shot wide.

And so the stage was set for another second half where two questions would be asked – did the players have enough to improve, and if not, did Solskjaer have enough invention to change it up to stop his team looking so utterly predictable?

Both questions had a positive response – Fernandes was fantastic in his delayed release of the ball for Rashford to finish in the 62nd minute.

In the 76th minute, Fernandes’ shot was spilled, and James – who had come on for Rashford – got a toe to set up Greenwood, whose stabbed effort clipped the top of the bar. Seven minutes later, Greenwood had his moment – his second league goal of the season, and even rarer, a header, when Fernandes’ cross was met by a Pogba volley. It was a better cross than assist, and Greenwood was there to give his team three points.

Selection

Some big selections – Henderson in goal the obvious headline choice. Is he now the first pick? We’ll see. He did well, in spite of the silly goal, as he could not be blamed.

Fred was lucky to keep his place though Pogba was the poorer of the two midfield, in spite of the assist that was fortuitous. It’s a complex issue for Solskjaer – we can see it wasn’t convincing, but his team deserve credit for responding, and he deserves credit for his management of the game, considering it was not a result that could be taken for granted.

Ratings

Henderson 6

Wan-Bissaka 6

Lindelof 6

Maguire 7

Shaw 7

Fred 6

Pogba 5

Greenwood 7

Fernandes 7

Rashford 7

Cavani 4

Subs :

James 6

Van De Beek

McTominay

Wayne Barton

Wayne is a writer and producer. His numerous books on Manchester United include the authorised biography of Jimmy Murphy. He wrote and produced the BT Sport film 'Too Good To Go Down'. In 2015 he was described by the Independent as the 'leading writer on Manchester United' and former club chairman Martin Edwards has described him as 'the pre-eminent writer on the club'.

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