Ratings: De Gea, Sancho, Ronaldo and Fernandes inspire United to victory; Pogba good too

United deserved this victory and clean sheet but will need improve their ways

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Manchester United beat Brighton and Hove Albion 2-0 at Old Trafford in the Premier League. Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring in the 51st minute with Bruno Fernandes securing the victory late in added time. Leeds United next for the Red Devils.

It was not the greatest of starts for United, but this is something we have become used to more often than not. Fred lost the ball in midfield which left David De Gea having to make a save from Jakub Moder in the opening five minutes. That could describe this season in a sentence.

Just a minute later, Jadon Sancho, keeping his form from the last three matches, almost got United ahead with some good attacking play. It was positive for United but it just did not work for them. Brighton had a few good opportunities with United stuck in their area for a while.

Sancho had another good chance in the 15th minute of the match, but once again, United were not up for turning an attacking chance into a goal. This was going to be one of those matches. United had some good attacks, but they wasted them more often than not.

Brighton were the best team on the pitch for most of the half with United getting a few chances here and there but with Sancho the only player that seems really determined to get something from the game. Anthony Elanga had a good chance with a trick in the box but he stumbled.

In the last two minutes of the half, Elanga was fouled outside of the box, just after De Gea made a great save, but the resulting free-kick was taken by Cristiano Ronaldo, coming to nothing. At the end of the half it was 0-0 and United had three shots, one on target.

At the start of the second half there were no changes for either team. In just six minutes of the second half United managed to take the lead through none other than Cristiano Ronaldo, scoring his first goal of 2022 and his 15th of the season, assisted by Scott McTominay.

A minute later, Lewis Dunk fouled Elanga and was shown a yellow card. VAR got involved and it became a red card with Bruno Fernandes earning himself a yellow for dissent whilst the decision was being made. Brighton were down to ten men and United needed to take advantage of this.

Ralf Rangnick brought Fred off for Paul Pogba in the 73rd minute, improving the midfield with a fresh Pogba to help string it together. In the 80th minute, a double substitution of Marcus Rashford and Alex Telles saw Elanga and Sancho end their night, albeit on a slight high.

It seemed that it was just going to be one goal for United, which says a lot about this team playing the majority of the second half against ten men. That said, a win and a clean sheet would be a positive for this team. Baby steps I guess.

Danny Welbeck came on for Brighton against his former team with the commentary team talking about what he did as an 18-year-old, despite the fact he’s now 31. He did have a chance in the 90th minute though, missing his effort, which is the story of his career post-United.

There was six minutes added on at the end of the match with United still winning but pushing their luck a little. Bruno Fernandes doubled United’s lead at the death though, dummying the goalkeeper to finish himself, getting all three points and a clean sheet in the bag.

Player Ratings

David De Gea: Made some great saved to deny Brighton, who were the best team in the first half. Was not really tested by the visitors but with this defence ahead of him, it was never going to be easy for him and United. ★★★★★★★★

Diogo Dalot: Did not step a foot wrong, but did not do things all that well either. Needs to attack much better than he has been doing. Is it time to let Wan-Bissaka have an opportunity to win his place back in this team? ★★★★★★

Victor Lindelof: Stepped in at the last minute after Varane became ill. Seemed solid at times considering it was his first match in about a month. Should possibly get a chance to partner Varane in this team with Maguire not stepping up. ★★★★★★

Harry Maguire: Just did not impress me. Seems well out of form and should be out of this team. Lindelof was the player on the front foot, which is surprising as at times it has been Maguire. For the captain to continue these performances shows how far United have fallen. ★★★★★

Luke Shaw: Seemed to lack urgency at times and was reprimanded by the supporters at Old Trafford. Booked for a foul late in the game and could have been replaced by Telles, but it was Sancho that ended up coming off for him. ★★★★★

Bruno Fernandes: Showed his passion and his frustration in the demise of this United team. He knows they should be doing more and tries to inspire his teammates. Booked for dissent before Dunk’s yellow became a red. Doubled United’s lead in the last kick of the game. ★★★★★★★

Scott McTominay: Could be fortunate to start this match considering his performances recently, despite giving his all. Needs to impress more. However, he got the ball of Bissouma and fed it to Ronaldo for the opening goal six minutes into the second half. ★★★★★★

Fred: Kept giving the ball away, which was very costly in the opening five minutes. He needs to show improvement, not consistency at not being up to the grade required in a United midfield. Should have made way during the break. Replaced by Pogba after showing no improvement. ★★★★

Anthony Elanga: Played well for United and provided lots of attacking width. Tried a few things but did not make it happen for United. Will benefit from the experience though. He was fouled by Dunk in the second half with saw the defender sent off. Replaced by Rashford. ★★★★★★

Cristiano Ronaldo: Scored his 15th goal of the season with a fine finish from outside of the box. Had a free-kick in the first, which he should have at least caused a problem with. Glad to see him break his drought but inevitably he needs to be doing more in this team. ★★★★★★★★

Jadon Sancho: Started with blistering pace and with a point to prove. Had a great chance in the opening five minutes and seemed to be the player in the zone for United. Did his best throughout the match. Replaced by Telles. ★★★★★★★

Substitutes

Paul Pogba: Replaced Fred 73′. Should have replaced Fred at the start of the second half. Got his eighth assist of the season for Fernandes’ late goal. In this form, Pogba’s departure in the summer is going to leave United with a hole to fill. ★★★★★★★

Marcus Rashford: Replaced Elanga 80′. His attacking ability and pace gave something for the Brighton defenders to think about. Needs to play like this more often to win back his place in the team. He has been less than inspiring recently. ★★★★★★

Alex Telles: Replaced Sancho 80′. Did what was needed late in the game for United, who were letting Brighton keep the ball, welcoming them to attack. Great to see a clean sheet and a victory which was much-needed for this club. ★★★★★★

Goals: Cristiano Ronaldo 51′, Bruno Fernandes 90+7′

Assists: Scott McTominay 51′, Paul Pogba 90+7′

Manchester United: De Gea; Dalot, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; Fernandes, McTominay, Fred (Pogba 73′); Elanga (Rashford 80′), Ronaldo, Sancho (Telles 80′)

Substitutes Not Used: Henderson, Heaton; Jones, Wan-Bissaka; Mata, Lingard

Bookings: Bruno Fernandes 53′, Luke Shaw 72′, Scott McTominay 90+5′; Lewis Dunk 55′ s/o, Alexis Mac Allister 85′

Written by John Walker

About John Walker 1551 Articles
I support Manchester United, the greatest English football team to have ever existed. Bruno Fernandes is the latest in a long line of players with great ability to play for the club. I idolised Bryan Robson, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Eric Cantona growing up.