Manchester United returned to winning ways in the Premier League on Sunday, as they saw off Brighton & Hove Albion 3-1 at Old Trafford. Goals from Andreas Pereira and Marcus Rashford, and an own goal by Brighton’s Davy Pröpper, proved enough for win that may have felt more routine than it actually was.
United created their first chance within the quarter-hour: Rashford darted infield off the left and worked room for a shot, but his effort proved too tame to test Mat Ryan. Within a couple of minutes, United were ahead. There was no small amount of fortune in the opening goal, which came as Pereira’s shot from the edge of the area spooned off Brighton defender Dale Stephens and past a helpless Ryan, wrong-footed by the massive deflection.
The second, which followed just three minutes later, was almost as lucky. A deep Fred free-kick was won in the air by Harry Maguire, and prodded home in a goalmouth scramble by Scott McTominay. A subsequent VAR review didn’t deny United the goal, but did deny McTominay: Pröpper was adjudged to have made the final touch, and the goal went down as his own.
Brighton looked blunt from open play, but did offer a threat on set pieces. They might’ve halved their deficit almost immediately, but Leandro Trossard’s vicious free-kick flashed past the far post after a flick from Lewis Dunk. Trossard again almost turned provider shortly before halftime, but a free Aaron Connolly headed his cross over the crossbar.
United struck lucky twice soon after the restart: Brandon Williams was fortunate to escape with a yellow card for a high challenge on Steven Alzate, shortly before Neal Maupay narrowly failed to make contact on a loose ball yards from David de Gea’s goal.
Eventually, United’s luck ran out. It was entirely unsurprising that Brighton pulled one back from a set-piece, as Dunk rose to power a Pascal Groß corner home. But if the Seagulls thought an equaliser was in the offing, they were mistaken. Within two minutes, Rashford had restored United’s cushion, powering an Anthony Martial lay-off home via the underside of the crossbar.
A flurry of United chances followed their third, including one of the misses of the season from Rashford. A low Daniel James cross was begging to be tapped home, but his strike partner contrived to skew it wide from point-blank range.
Brighton’s defence was broken several times in the final few minutes, and United should really have filled their boots. As it was, they had to settle for a 3-1 win that had come with a more than fair helping of fortune.