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Report: Brighton and Hove Albion 3-2 Manchester United; a day to forget for United supporters

Manchester United were beaten 3-2 by Brighton and Hove Albion in the clubs first away match in the Premier League this season. United were poor as Glenn Murray (25′), Shane Duffy (27′) and Pascal Gross (44′) did the damage to United. Romelu Lukaku scored in the 34th minute of the match, Paul Pogba scoring a penalty at the death. A day to forget for United supporters.

Jose Mourinho made two changes from the squad which beat Leicester City last week with Ashley Young and Anthony Martial coming in for Alexis Sanchez and Matteo Darmian. Marcus Rashford was benched with Lukaku starting his first match this season. Jesse Lingard was also back on the bench for United after his summer break following the FIFA World Cup.

Brighton started the match with a good spell of possession and United were trying to close the South Coast side down quickly. Come the seventh minute, United had a chance to threaten the home side for the first time with Martial twisting and turning inside Martin Montoya but saw his shot deflected for a corner, which was delivered by Juan Mata but cleared by the Seagulls.

A minute later, Solly March dug out a cross from the left for Brighton but David De Gea was alert and pounced in order to claim the ball easily. In the tenth minute, Lukaku had a good chance after Brighton lost possession, Paul Pogba, today’s captain slipped the ball to the Belgian who dragged his left-footed shot wide of the target from his position inside the box.

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In the twelfth minute, Brighton captain Lewis Dunk had a problem and was down receiving treatment. The issue was  quickly resolved with the defender back on the pitch minutes later. In the 16th minute, Luke Shaw was adjudged to have fouled Anthony Knockaert, escaping a booking from referee Kevin Friend. Glenn Murray was flagged offside from the free-kick, taken by Dale Stephens.

In the 19th minute, Lukaku won a corner after his cross into the box was blocked by Gaetan Bong. United looked to be getting better in the game after good build up play from Mata and Ashley Young. In the 20th minute, Dunk had to come off through injury with Leon Balogun replacing the captain. United won another corner in the 21st minute, Young taking the set-piece but Stephens cleared the danger.

In the 22nd minute, Brighton started to dig in and get something from the game with Knockaert latching on to through ball, advancing into the box but fluffing his lines and firing wide of the target. Brighton took the mean three minutes later through Murray after March drilled a low pass which was flicked past De Gea. It was Brighton’s first goal of the new season.

It then got worse for United, who found themselves 2-0 down in two minutes after Shane Duffy opened his Premier League account for his club after beating the Spanish number on with a side footed finish from inside the box after United were unable to clear the danger from a corner. This was an embarrassment for United, who just did not seem to be able to organise anything on the pitch to avert the danger.

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United had a lot to do in order to get back into the game. However, they did come back from 2-0 last season away to Crystal Palace, winning 3-2 with that spectacular goal from Nemanja Matic. United started to enjoy a spell in possession after Brighton scored twice. Young won a corner in the 32nd minute of the match.

United were back in the game inside the 34th minute after Lukaku opened his account for the new season. The Belgian headed home from close-ranger, connecting onto a Shaw shot from the corner which was driven in by Young. United were back in the game, still with a lot to do in order to sap the pressure from this confident Brighton side.

Questions will now be asked of United’s captain, Paul Pogba on whether he can drive United on to a classic comeback of United old. Brighton nearly got through on goal again but the offside flag saved United’s blushes. Brighton won a free-kick from 22-yards which Knockaert stepped up to take. The Frenchman’s effort was too high and did not cause any trouble for United.

Brighton won a penalty in the 43rd minute of the match after Victor Lindelof was beaten and Eric Bailly thundered in to challenge Pascal Gross, giving away a penalty. Gross stepped forward to take the penalty, De Gea trying to save with his feet and sending the ball into the back of the net. It was now 3-1 to Brighton. Four minutes were added at the end of the half with Martial being booked two minutes into added time.

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Mourinho made a double substitution at the start of the second half with Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard replacing Juan Mata and Andreas Pereira. It wasn’t the best start for United after Brighton, full of confidence continued to pressure them. Bailly just outside the box nearly lost the ball from an onrushing Brighton player. United recovered and Fred had a shot, which was well over the crossbar.

United won a corner in the 52nd minute, the ball was lofted into the box with Pogba rising for the header, which was off target. United needed to get stuck into this game and work hard to get something from it, whether it is a point, three points or just another goal. After Mourinho was not backed by the club’s board this summer, it was never going to be an easy ride.

Ten minutes into the second half, United were pushing to get back into the game again. Pogba played a pass to find Fred but Duffy did enough to hold back the Brazilian and the ball went out for a goal kick. Shaw then advanced on the left and delivered a cross into the box, which was missed by Bong but a United player could not get into get something from the opportunity.

Come the hour mark, United were turning the screw and applying pressure to Brighton. Marouane Fellaini was receiving some instructions from Kieran McKenna just before he replaced Martial in the 60th minute. A minute later, Shaw drove the ball into the packed penalty area but Lukaku was standing in an offside position and was flagged for offside.

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In the 67th minute, Murray was booked for Brighton after the referee signalled that it was for a succession of offences. United were still 3-1 down with just over 20 minutes to play. Pogba tried to pick out Fellaini at the back post with a deep cross in the 68th minute of the match, which could have put United back into the game. However, Mat Ryan was able to claim the ball to deny United from a goalscoring opportunity.

United have added urgency to their game and it would suggest that if United continued to push, something might give. However, the Red Devils were struggling to create anything going forward with Brighton solid and organised at the back, which is something this United side could learn from. This side, at this stage of the season, certainly make it look like the season is going to be long and tough.

Pogba had a chance, albeit from 25-yards, in the 75th minute but Ryan tipped the ball behind for a United corner. It was the closest United had come to scoring a goal in the second half. I don’t understand what is going wrong with the squad, although it will be blamed on the manager. Lukaku had a chance in the 78th minute, clipping a dangerous ball into the box, Ryan came to save Brighton again.

United were set to leave Brighton with their tails between their legs knowing that the club scalped them at their home again. Tomorrow will see players apologise, say they feel the disappointment and get on with their lives. That would be fine if they did something to justify their wages against this Brighton side. Perhaps they will win the war against the manager and get another one sacked? Who knows. Maybe it was an off day!

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In the 85th minute, Rashford lost the ball but showed his tenacity to win it back but was adjudged to have fouled Stephens. Brighton then won a corner after Stephens latched onto a Montoya free-kick. March took the corner but Pogba headed the danger away. United were vastly running out of time to mount a comeback. There were four minutes of added time played at the end of the second half.

United won a penalty at the death after Fellaini was fouled in the box. Pogba took the penalty, like he did at the start of the Leicester match, firing into the top if the net. It was 3-2 to United. Too little, too late. The match ended with Brighton overcoming defeat in their season opener, beating United at home for the second time in two seasons.

United face Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford a week on Monday, which will not be something many will want to come around quickly. Seeing what Brighton did to this United team, imagining what the likes of Spurs or Manchester City could do is not something many want to think of right now. United have a lot of work to put in on the training pitch in order to overcome this disastrous defeat.

Goals: Romelu Lukaku 34′, Paul Pogba 90+4′

Manchester United: De Gea; Young, Lindelof, Bailly, Shaw; Fred, Pereira (Lingard 46′), Pogba; Mata (Rashford 46′), Lukaku, Martial (Fellaini 60′)

Substitutes Not Used: Grant; Smalling; Herrera, McTominay

Bookings: Anthony Martial 45+2′

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