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Manchester United 2-1 Brighton & Hove Albion: Reds tighten their grip on second place with another comeback

Can we just win one normally?

Manchester United v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Manchester United earned another comeback win with a 2-1 victory over Brighton and Hove Albion after second-half goals from Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood erased a first-half Danny Welbeck goal.

Manchester United looked motivated to earn the result early in the first half as they owned possession and kept the Seagulls pinned in their own half.

The best chance of the early portion came in the eighth minute when a pass in the box casually rolled to Greenwood. The young forward, as he so often does, was quick to turn on the ball and rip the shot towards goal. The grounder snuck past the feet of the Brighton defenders and was only denied by hitting the wrong side of the post.

However, Brighton would regroup shortly after and draw first blood in the 13th minute. Neal Maupay received the ball on the right wing while the United defense was transitioning back. The forward crossed a perfect ball to the center of the box as Danny Welbeck found space between Victor Lindelöf and Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Welbeck headed the ball directly at Dean Henderson who deflected the ball to make a save, but Welbeck was still there to head in the ball that was ricocheting away from goal. Advantage Brighton.

The remainder of the first half proved to be a physical affair as official Mike Dean “let the lads play” as they say, and, despite being down an early goal, United lacked an urgency to create chances and find an equalizer. Further thwarting the home side was a competent defensive shape from the visitors that held their one-goal advantage into the break.

Like we’ve seen so many times before this season, United would mount their comeback in the second half.

In the 62nd minute, Rashford found his 10th Premier League goal of the season and sparked the comeback for the Reds. From the right wing, Edinson Cavani played a quick ball centrally to Bruno Fernandes. As a Brighton defender charged in to make a heavy challenge on the Portuguese, Fernandes laid the ball off to Rashford who was cutting in from the left wing. Rashford opened up his hips and guided a cool finish past the Brighton keeper to level the score.

Brighton nearly found a lead again in the 70th minute as they caught United on the counter. Welbeck pulled away from Maguire in the box and nearly was able to get a foot on a through ball that would’ve beaten Henderson. Maguire appeared to have handled Welbeck’s shoulder, but VAR quickly ruled that the play was fair and no penalty was given to the visitors.

Finally, United would complete its comeback victory in the 83rd minute. Luke Shaw played a sublime through ball to Bruno Fernandes who played a cross to an unmarked Paul Pogba. Pogba hit a volley into the ground that bounced to Greenwood near the six-yard box. Greenwood glanced his header that made it over the line to give United its first lead of the day.

The Reds would hold on for the final seven minutes plus four minutes of stoppage time to see out the 2-1 victory — a rare instance where United would take advantage of having a game in hand. United still hold their spot in second place but now enjoy a four-point cushion over third place Leicester. Even better, nine points separate United from fourth-place Chelsea and 11 points separate them from fifth-place Everton.

Manchester United is back on the pitch on Thursday, April 8 when the Reds travel to face Granada CF in the first leg of the pair’s Europa League quarterfinal matchup. They then return to league play on Sunday, April 11 for a rematch against Tottenham Hotspur and the embattled José Mourinho.