Manchester United made it 39 games unbeaten at Old Trafford and maintained their 100 percent home record with a narrow 1-0 win over Brighton & Hove Albion. Ashley Young’s deflected effort was enough to secure all three points against a dogged performance from the newly promoted side. Pogba and Lindelöf both impressed, but it was Young who was the star man for the reds. Here are our player ratings.
David De Gea: 6
Did not have much to do in this game as he claimed his ninth clean sheet of the season. Although Brighton pressed well and had a few decent counter-attacking opportunities in the first half, they very rarely stretched the in-form Spaniard. He dealt well with anything that came towards him.
Antonio Valencia: 5.5
It was a sluggish performance from many of the United players this afternoon, and Valencia may have epitomized that. His usual marauding forward runs were relatively non-existent against a side that were happy to sit back and hit on the counter. He defended well but most of Brighton’s attacking came through Knockaert on the right-hand side.
Victor Lindelöf: 7
In only his second Premier League start of the season, Lindelöf faced a physical threat in Brighton’s Glenn Murray. The Swede arguably put in his best performance of the season so far, as he was composed on the ball and dealt with Murray’s physicality well. His tackle on Knockaert in the second half got the crowd going in what was a stale game at times.
Chris Smalling: 6.5
Twinned with Lindelöf to mark and deal with Murray. Smalling quietly went about his business effectively, got beat occasionally too easily but put in a decent performance and retained another clean sheet for the reds.
Ashley Young: 8 (Man of the Match)
Young carried this United team at times with his enthusiasm, determination and drive. In the first half some of his defending against the talented and pacey Knockaert was questionable, but his drive to get the team going was evident. He was constantly looking to get forward and deliver for the United frontline. His deflected shot was given as an own-goal, but Young showed his excellence this afternoon.
Paul Pogba: 7
Pulled the strings in midfield for United. He wasn’t at his usual brilliant self, yet he still gave United the creativity and energy to get something from the game. Was unlucky not to grab a goal late in the first half, but was brilliantly denied by Matt Ryan in goal. Looked slightly fatigued towards the end of the game, but got another 90 minutes of fitness under his belt.
Nemanja Matić: 5.5
After setting such consistently high standards all season, Matić had a disappointing performance this afternoon. Brighton flooded the midfield, dropping deep behind the ball, and with Pogba more advanced in the game, it left Matić with a lot of defensive responsibilities. Towards the end of the game he also looked tired, his passing was off and his creativity just wasn’t up to his usual levels. Nevertheless, he still worked very hard throughout.
Juan Mata: 5
A very poor performance from the experienced Mata. He should have been pulling the strings in the final third to break down this resolute Brighton side, however he found himself out-muscled on the ball, slow in possession and unable to provide any penetration. The Spaniard was brought off on the hour mark for Ibrahimović.
Marcus Rashford: 6
With Brighton sitting so far back, it limited Rashford’s deep penetrating runs behind the defense. He was often doubled down on, which prevented him from attacking with his usual explosive pace.
Anthony Martial: 5.5
Similarly to Rashford, Martial struggled to implement his talent on the game. He showed in glimpses his tricky footwork and creativity, but did not supply enough end product. Unusually quiet this afternoon.
Romelu Lukaku: 6
Came up against the 6th best defensive team in the Premier League in terms of goals against. It was evident of their gritty determination to keep the Belgian striker out by limiting him to only a couple of chances. He had a tame header in the first half and had another that was excellently saved by Ryan later on. However, his drive and determination was excellent throughout in a not so pretty game. He made a terrific defensive tackle, sprinting back the length of the pitch, to his manager’s appreciation. He could’ve ruined United’s goal after kicking out at Bong in the penalty area, though the officials did not see it.
Zlatan Ibrahimović (Sub, 62’): 6
Came on with 30 minutes left. Obviously still finding his way after the lengthy absence off the field. He controlled the tempo at times and looked to create.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Sub, 71’): 5.5
Did little to impress with the 20 minutes he was given.
Marouane Fellaini (Sub, 80’): N/A
Came on with only 10 minutes left – too short for rating.
José Mourinho: 6
His decision to start Mata on the right and Rashford in a more central position was questionable, and the two often switched. The attacking line-up could not break down the Brighton defense as effectively as they have done in previous games. Mourinho’s substitutions had little impact on improving the creativity offensively. However, as he mentioned in his post-game interviews, the three points were the most important takeaway from the game. Mourinho has built up the Old Trafford fortress once more.