A dramatic injury-time penalty gave Manchester United victory at Brighton and their first three points of the season in a stunning game at Amex Stadium.
A match packed full of incident was settled with the very final kick as Bruno Fernandes coolly stroked in the winning penalty, spotted and awarded via a VAR check for Neal Maupay’s handball from a corner, all after on-field official Chris Kavanagh had blown to signal the end of the match.
Just moments before, Brighton thought they had sealed a point that would have been the least they deserved when Solly March headed in a cross from Alireza Jahanbakhsh.
It was a fitting finale to a madcap, seesaw game that had seen Albion take the lead through a Maupay penalty before United clawed their way back into the ascendency thanks to a Lewis Dunk own goal and a superb solo effort from Marcus Rashford.
As if that wasn’t enough, the home side also struck the woodwork five times (with Leandro Trossard responsible for three of them), saw one awarded penalty overruled by VAR and another potential one waved away by Kavanagh.
On top of that, the visitors had two goals ruled out for offside.
But despite still being far from their best, it is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side who emerge with a first win of the Premier League campaign, helping quieten some of the criticism that followed their surprise opening-game loss to Crystal Palace.
For Brighton, it is a flooring loss at the end of an emotional rollercoaster, but one from which they can draw plenty to be optimistic about.
United show fighting spirit
It speaks to the shambolic nature of United’s defeat by Palace that such a chaotic and fortunate win is a step forward for Solskjaer’s side.
There was still plenty to be critical about in their display at the Amex – a still ropey-looking defence that tried but ultimately failed to protect a 2-1 lead, a midfield packed with quality but lacking the cohesion witnessed in the run-in last season and a big gulf in quality from first XI to the bench.
Fernandes may have scored the winning penalty, but he was at fault for the one from which Brighton scored the opener, courtesy of a clumsy foul on the again lively Tariq Lamptey.
Harry Maguire played his part in their equaliser to that opener with his presence in the Brighton box forcing Dunk to poke in Nemanja Matic’s headed cross, but he was nowhere when March headed home late on.
However, the United boss can now at least point to a fighting spirit, depth of resolve and signs of sharpness returning to his forward three as pillars on which to build.
Rashford was particularly impressive and involved in much of their good attacking play.
Although he twice wandered slightly offside to cause the ruling out of two goals – firstly for Greenwood and then himself – he made amends with a brilliant solo goal.
Having driven into the box, the England forward turned one way and the next and past flailing Brighton tackles before firing a deflected shot into the net.
David de Gea also deserves some credit for a superb point-blank save to deny Trossard just moments before March’s header sparked the injury-time madness.
More to follow.
Player of the match
with an average of7.22
Brighton & Hove Albion
Squad number11Player nameTrossard
Squad number2Player nameLamptey
Squad number20Player nameMarch
Squad number9Player nameMaupay
Squad number7Player nameConnolly
Squad number3Player nameWhite
Squad number4Player nameWebster
Squad number17Player nameAlzate
Squad number14Player nameLallana
Squad number16Player nameJahanbakhsh
Squad number5Player nameDunk
Squad number1Player nameRyan
Squad number13Player nameGroß
- Action and reaction from Brighton v Man Utd, plus the rest of Saturday’s Premier League action
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- 3WhiteBooked at 74mins
- 5DunkBooked at 83mins
- 14LallanaSubstituted forGroßat75′minutes
- 11TrossardBooked at 42mins
- 7ConnollySubstituted forJahanbakhshat75′minutesBooked at 90mins
- 1de Gea
- 6PogbaSubstituted forFredat65′minutes
- 31MaticBooked at 41mins
- 11GreenwoodSubstituted forBaillyat83′minutes
- 18Bruno FernandesBooked at 22mins
- 9MartialSubstituted forvan de Beekat90+1′minutes
- 34van de Beek
Match ends, Brighton and Hove Albion 2, Manchester United 3.
Second Half ends, Brighton and Hove Albion 2, Manchester United 3.
Goal! Brighton and Hove Albion 2, Manchester United 3. Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the top right corner.
VAR Decision: Penalty Manchester United.
Alireza Jahanbakhsh (Brighton and Hove Albion) is shown the yellow card.
Penalty conceded by Neal Maupay (Brighton and Hove Albion) with a hand ball in the penalty area.
Attempt blocked. Harry Maguire (Manchester United) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Bruno Fernandes with a cross.
Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Lewis Dunk.
Goal! Brighton and Hove Albion 2, Manchester United 2. Solly March (Brighton and Hove Albion) header from very close range to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Alireza Jahanbakhsh with a cross.
Offside, Manchester United. Fred tries a through ball, but Marcus Rashford is caught offside.
Attempt saved. Leandro Trossard (Brighton and Hove Albion) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Steven Alzate.
Attempt missed. Steven Alzate (Brighton and Hove Albion) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Pascal Groß.
Attempt blocked. Alireza Jahanbakhsh (Brighton and Hove Albion) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Solly March.
Corner, Brighton and Hove Albion. Conceded by Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
Substitution, Manchester United. Donny van de Beek replaces Anthony Martial.
Foul by Steven Alzate (Brighton and Hove Albion).
Harry Maguire (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Tariq Lamptey (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Nemanja Matic (Manchester United).
Corner, Brighton and Hove Albion. Conceded by Victor Lindelöf.