Report: Manchester United beat Brighton 1-0 to keep the pressure on City

Manchester United beat Brighton and Hove Albion 1-0 at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon. It was Ashley Young who scored the goal for United in the 66th minute, with a deflection coming of Lewis Dunk. Dunk was credited with the own goal though, but Young may claim it. Three points and 38 home games in all competitions undefeated for United.

Jose Mourinho named the same team which beat Newcastle United at Old Trafford a week ago to face Brighton and Hove Albion at the Theatre of Dreams. United were beaten midweek by Basel in the UEFA Champions League with Mourinho resting David De Gea, Antonio Valencia, and Ashley Young – all three returning to the team today.

United started the match in god stead, getting a chance in the third minute of the match with Romelu Lukaku latching onto the ball from Anthony Martial, it dropping on the Belgian’s left foot twenty yards out and the shot going wide of the target. Brighton had a chance in the fifth minute as Anthony Knockaert and Pascal Gross played a one-two with the latter getting behind Ashley Young, the shot wasted.

In the eighth minute, Martial broke forward, swung the ball into the box for Lukaku but Mathew Ryan thwarted the play. Brighton then lost the ball and Paul Pogba put it back into the box with Shane Duffy making the clearance. In the tenth minute, Solly March won a free kick after trying to take on Antonio Valencia. Gross took the free-kick, tried to swing it into the box by Nemanja Matic headed it out of danger.

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Brighton broke forward in the 12th minute of the match. Bruno beat Young on the right and found Gross 15-yards out but the shot was straight at De Gea. United were growing in their frustration, Pogba looked up and tried to have a shot from 40 yards with Davy Propper making the block. There was a distinct lack of tempo from United.

In the 17th minute, Martial cut in off the left and took on three men, getting to the edge of the box to play a one-two with Juan Mata. Duffy made the clearance to avert the danger and Martial went to ground seeking a free-kick, which was not given by the referee. In the 19th minute, Knockaert beat Young, again, and sent a low cross into the box with De Gea getting on it and thwarting the effort.

In the 24th minute of the match, Mata broke forward on the left and injected some pace on the game, which had been lacking. He crossed the ball into Lukaku, who beat Lewis Dunk in the air bit his header on goal was weak and straight at Ryan, who made the easy save. Brighton won a free-kick three minutes later, winning a free-kick with Lukaku winning the ball and clearing.

Brighton had another chance in the 32nd minute as Bruno spun a sensational ball in for Knockaert, lining up Chris Smalling as he got there. Instead of taking Smalling on, he passed to Propper but the pass was too strong and the chance had gone for the visitors. Brighton seem to be having fun showing Young he is not a left-back, or a defender.

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United won a free-kick in the 34th minute after Victor Lindelof had his shirt pulled in his own box, which saw United have some time away from being bombarded with chances from Brighton, beating Young on the left on nearly each attempt. United regained possession, broke forward with Valencia and tried to find a goal to break the deadlock, Lukaku heading out for a goal kick.

In the 39th minute, Brighton had a chance to break the deadlock through Glenn Murray who was close to latching onto a deep delivery.  The ball from the left was dangerous by Murray could not connect with it, which would have left De Gea in trouble. United seemed to be lucky so far, which will only add to the criticism as they should be dominating teams like Brighton.

In the 42nd minute, Unite broke through on the left through Young, beat two defenders and got into the box. He tried to put the ball into danger but Duffy hammered it out of danger. Two minutes later, Marcus Rashford found space and smashed the ball into the near post with Ryan making the save. Pogba went down trying to get into the rebound, needing a bit of treatment.

At the break the score was still level at 0-0 with all to play for. United needed to do a lot better and thwart Brighton from creating the chances they created in the first half. At the start of the second half, there were no changes for either team and Pogba was able to play on. Brighton had a good chance in the opening minute but they could not capitalise.

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In the 48th minute of the match, Rashford sprung down the right, beating three Brighton players, then tried to out-run Gaetan Bong with the Brighton man stepping across him with the Old Trafford faithful calling for a free-kick, which was not given. Two minutes later, Pogba ran to the edge of the box with Lukaku gaining the ball and nearly setting up Rashford with an amazing flick.

In the 55th minute, Brighton had another chance through Murray who was to receive a long ball, but it did not fall to his feet and Smalling had to make the clearance. Victor Lindelof also had to make a tacking on Knockaert, which resulted in the Brighton player needing treatment for a knock received in the challenge. Murray was booked in the 59th minute for dissent.

Mourinho made his first change in the 62nd minute with Zlatan Ibrahimovic replacing Mata. The Swede was instrumental in his first involvement in the game, helping United win a corner. The corner, taken by Rashford, was headed out of danger easily by Brighton, but United regained possession and added pressure in their area, to no avail, yet. In the 66th minute, Ashley Young scored for United. 1-0.

The goal came after a period of pressure for Brighton with United seeking a goal. United won a corner and it was played out to Young, who fired his speculative effort goalwards, it takes a slight deflection of Dunk and into the top corner of the goal. A decent goal for United and one Brighton will bemoan. Mourinho made his second change of the match with Henrikh Mkhitaryan replacing Martial.

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After United’s second change, Dunk  surged forward for Brighton, finding himself in the box in a bit of space but United had an easy save to make after he shot too early with Smalling deflecting it behind for a corner, which was cleared. Brighton made a double change with Tomer Hemed replacing Murray and Jose Izquierdo replacing March.

In the 77th minute, Knockaert showed his skill down the right, beating Young and fizzing  a low cross into the United box with no teammate there to complete the chance. In the 79th minute, Mourinho made his third substitution with Marouane Fellaini replacing Rashford, who suffered from a knock in the last minute of his appearance today.

United had another chance in the 82nd minute of the match with Smalling in the box from a corner, standing near the back post and his downward header bounced wide of the target. If United keep ahead here, it will be seven-league home wins this season, the first time they will have done that since 1994. In the 85th minute, Brighton had a free-kick, which was a poor effort to equalise.

Ibrahimovic was fouled by Duffy, a late challenge with the Brighton man booked for the challenge, Chris Hughton made his final substitution with Isaiah Brown replacing Gross in the 88th minute. United had another chance with Ibrahimovic and Pogba with some clever play, the Swede unable to find the back of the net this time.

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Five minutes were added on at the end of the half. There was a penalty shout in the United area after Fellaini was deemed to handle the ball, but it touched the top of his arm. Brighton fans will moan about the decision not going their way, which would be cheating. Brighton were still seeking that elusive goal three minutes into added time, winning a throw-in, which was cleared form danger.

Dunk inspired his side to attack with Duffy seeming manhandled by Smalling, with nothing given for the challenge. It was a far from perfect performance from United, who seemed to lack a lot of creativity, even with Pogba in the side, which is a worry. United seem to be in a rut, unable to score plenty of goals. United are now unbeaten in their last 38 home matches in all competitions.

United will look at the positives here, a win and three points, reducing the deficit to five points with Manchester City. Next up for United is Watford away, who beat Newcastle United 3-0 this afternoon. Tottenham Hotspur drew with West Bromwich Albion at Wembley, so with either Liverpool or Chelsea dropping points this evening, it could be a good victory for United.

Goals: Lewis Dunk OG 66′

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Lindelof, Smalling, Young; Matic, Pogba; Rashford (Fellaini 79′), Mata (Ibrahimovic 62′), Martial (Mkhitaryan 71′); Lukaku

Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Rojo; Herrera, McTominay

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