Premier League: Fernandes’ penalty settles the issue against Brighton.
Manchester United beat Brighton -Brighton 2-3 Manchester United
Manchester United beat Brighton 3-2 away in the Premier League on Saturday after an incredible finale in which Bruno Fernandes struck the winning goal from the penalty spot in the 10th minute of stoppage time.
Neal Maupay had given away the penalty with a handball, which led to a VAR review, after referee Chris Kavanagh had blown the full-time whistle.
Kavanagh eventually gave the penalty and Fernandes lashed into the net from the spot, moments after Solly March had levelled for Brighton in the fifth minute of added time.
A brilliant goal
A brilliant solo strike from Marcus Rashford had given United the lead in the 55th minute after Rashford and Mason Greenwood had goals ruled out for offside and Brighton had seen a penalty decision overturned by a VAR review.
Brighton took the lead when Maupay coolly slotted in a penalty in the 40th minute after a foul by Fernandes. But the visitors levelled with an own goal from Brighton defender Lewis Dunk, who tried to prevent Harry Maguire from reaching a Nemanja Matic pass following a free kick but instead sent the ball into the net.
It was an occasion when Ole Gunnar Solskjær was reminded of the adage about how it is better to be a lucky general. Manchester United secured their first points of the season after a heavy-legged performance that lacked direction for long spells and a finale that could be best described as bonkers but what made the difference in the final analysis was the framework of David de Gea’s goal.
Almost ridiculously, Brighton rattled the posts and crossbar five times, with Leandro Trossard doing so three times. Adam Webster and Solly March were also denied. Since Opta began compiling statistics in 2003 for hitting the woodwork, no team had done so more than three times in a Premier League game.
Brighton 2-3 Manchester United
United’s heist looked set to be thwarted deep into stoppage time when the Brighton substitute Alireza Jahanbakhsh curled over a fine cross and March headed home on the bounce at the far post to make it 2-2. To say it was the least they deserved was the understatement of the sporting year.
But there would be one last twist. United forced a corner, Bruno Fernandes took it and the unmarked Harry Maguire saw his header cleared off the line by March. The referee, Chris Kavanagh, promptly blew the final whistle.
Then bedlam took hold. Maguire argued his header had flicked off Neal Maupay’s hand and Kavanagh would be advised by his video assistant to check the pitch-side monitor. Forget Fergie time. This was beyond even that.
When the replays were shown, it was clear the ball had indeed hit Maupay’s hand. Kavanagh gave the penalty and Fernandes crashed it into the top corner to break Brighton’s hearts.
There was so much to concern Solskjær – on the back of the dismal home defeat to Crystal Palace last Saturday. United looked as though they were wading through heavy mud at times, their defending was loose and risky, they made errors on the ball and it was frequently so ponderous in an attacking sense. And yet they got away with it.
Poor Brighton, who gave a performance of “courage, spirit and quality” in the words of their manager, Graham Potter. “That’s as well as I’ve seen us play,” he added.
Brighton were the dominant force in the first half and after United had not only equalised through Lewis Dunk’s own goal but put themselves in front after a flash of Marcus Rashford brilliance they continued to ask questions.
Trossard should have scored at the start of added time only to shoot too close to De Gea from point-blank range and they kept on going to get their reward through March. It was not enough.
The shot count was 17-6 in Brighton’s favour and, as Solskjær noted, many of their chances were not ordinary but big ones. It was one of those days.
“We feel so sore,” Potter said. “That’s how brutal this league is.”
Harry Maguire leads the protests to referee Chris Kavanagh who blew the final whistle before checking his pitchside monitor and awarding Manchester United their match-winning penalty for a handball by Neal Maupay. Photograph: Getty Images
United’s nonexistent pre-season has left them with a glaring lack of sharpness and they limped out of the starting blocks. It was a minor miracle that they were able to reach half-time at 1-1.
Brighton were quicker to the ball and stronger in the one-on-ones with Solskjær left to lament structural rather than individual problems which, he said, were related to fitness. “We are not sharp enough to get out to stop the crosses or follow the runs.”
Brighton’s opening goal had been signposted and it came when Fernandes had his bearings wrong inside his area and lunged at Tariq Lamptey. It was a clear penalty and the only decision for Kavanagh was whether to show Fernandes a second yellow card; the United midfielder had been booked earlier for a frustrated hack at Maupay. Kavanagh spared Fernandes – it was a 50-50 call – and it was left to Maupay to mete out the punishment with a gloriously executed Panenka.
At that point, Brighton had been denied three times by the woodwork. Trossard got into good areas around the United area and he rattled both posts with fierce left-foot shots, with De Gea beaten on both occasions, while Webster’s looping header hit the top of the crossbar.
United had done precious little in the final third, save for one dangerous Fernandes cross and a lovely move that started with a quick-footed piece of skill from Anthony Martial and ended with Mason Greenwood finishing from a Rashford cross. Rashford had strayed offside.
The visitors fashioned their lifeline when Fernandes hammered over a free-kick and Nemanja Matic turned it inside from the far post towards Maguire, with the ball going in off the unfortunate Dunk.
Paul Pogba diced with disaster in the 48th minute when he lent on Aaron Connolly inside the area and the Brighton striker went down theatrically. Kavanagh awarded the penalty; VAR would overrule him.
But United always have a puncher’s chance with the speed and quality of their front three and after Rashford had seen one finish from a Greenwood cross pulled back for offside by VAR he got his goal. He twisted Ben White one way and then the other following Fernandes’s pass before firing beyond Mat Ryan.
Back came Brighton. March hit the inside of the post and Trossard lashed against the crossbar before they thought they had salvaged the point. United had one final ruse.
“We need more late goals,” Solskjær said. “This is a great boost for us.”
Premier League: Brighton 2 (Maupay 40-pen, March 90+5) lost to Manchester United 3 (Dunk 43-og, Rashford 55, Fernandes 90+10); Crystal Palace 1 (Kouyate 26) lost to Everton 2 (Calvert-Lewin 10, Richarlison 40-pen).
LaLiga: Alaves 0 drew with Getafe 0; Valencia 1 (Wass 38) drew with Huesca 1 (Siovas 63).
Serie A: Torino 2 (Belotti 10, 43) lost to Atalanta 4 (Gomez 12, Muriel 21, Hateboer 42, Marten de Roon 54).
Bundesliga: Borussia Monchengladbach 1 (Thuram 56) drew with Union Berlin 1 (Schlotterbeck 79); Bayer Leverkusen 1 (Demirbay 20) drew with RB Leipzig 1 (Forsberg 14).
Mainz 05 1 (Quaison 13) lost to Stuttgart 4 (Wamangituka 45, Didavi 61, Klimowicz 80, Kalajdzic 86); Augsburg 2 (Uduokhai 40, Caligiuri 54) bt Borussia Dortmund 0; Arminia Bielefeld 1 (Edmundsson 78) bt Cologne 0; Hertha Berlin 1 (Hinteregger 78-og) lost to Eintracht Frankfurt 3 (Silva 30, Dost 37, Rode 70).