Manchester United came from behind win at Brighton in a back-and-forth encounter which finished 3-2 in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon.
The home side dominated stretches of the first half, but were three times denied by the woodwork before Bruno Fernandes conceded a penalty, which Neal Maupay clipped home.
The lead lasted only a minute though, as a deep free-kick was put into his own net by Lewis Dunk, under pressure from Harry Maguire.
An eventful second half then saw a penalty decision overturned, a goal ruled out and a brilliant solo strike from Marcus Rashford, while Brighton struck the woodwork twice more and notched a last-minute equaliser through Solly March—only for Maupay to handle eight minutes into stoppage time and let Fernandes score a penalty of his own.
Here are five things we learned from the game at the Amex Stadium.
Slick build-up needs a clinical edge
Five times Brighton were denied by the most narrow of margins, striking the post and crossbar across the 90 minutes.
Three of those were from Leandro Trossard alone, who was excellent in the final third with the exception of having that finishing touch.
It feels harsh to the Seagulls no doubt, but it shows where they are perhaps just still lacking amid some truly fantastic build-up play, one-touch exchanges through the lines which easily opened up United at times – only to fall short at the most vital moment.
To have so many big chances and not win the game is a disappointment to any team, but especially at home and even more so considering they didn’t even take a point.
United yet to hit top gear
After losing to Crystal Palace last week, United could hardly have complained had they ended up empty-handed again today.
But the forward line is lethal, and will win them more than just this game this season.
A few quick exchanges, a clinical touch which their opponents lack, and United will always have a chance to stay in the game.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer won’t be able to point to a lack of sharpness too much longer though; they were directionless for too long at the Amex, lacking intensity off the ball and pace of passing on it, and there’s still work ahead to find the form they had toward the end of last term.
Points matter most, though, and they’ve got them on this occasion.
Another right-back battle
Given the number of English options at present who can play the right-back position, we might see one of these battles most weeks.
On this occasion it was an easy decision to hand the victory by points to Tariq Lamptey, again a brilliant outlet, creative passer, effective dribbler and tenacious defender.
He also won the penalty for his team, showing his pace and determination to get to the ball ahead of Fernandes.
By contrast, Aaron Wan-Bissaka was sluggish in the tackle, couldn’t track the constant movement around him, struggled on-on-one against Solly March and offered very little in possession.
Having already won plenty of admirers once again this week for his off-pitch exploits, the United forward set about reminding us just how he earned his platform in the first place: being an exceptional forward.
He was quiet for stretches, but came alive in certain situations to utterly bamboozle the Brighton backline, never more so than for his goal.
A solo run, leaving a defender on the floor on more than one occasion, was finished with venom and purpose on the left boot.
Further runs down the channel and behind the back line gave his team clever openings and he was often the best outlet amid stuttering build-up play.
Finally, it’s worth pointing out that the two teams meet again on Wednesday, in the League Cup.
The teams are likely to be rotated, United’s maybe more than Brighton’s, and this was another pointer that perhaps Solskjaer has his first 11 in place and not much movement around it.
The goalkeeper spot has been most spoken about, but despite David de Gea being beaten by the shots which hit the woodwork, he did make one big stop right near the end to deny the profligate Trossard.
Perhaps competition for places will have a bigger impact on other positions going forward, too, as the underperformers in red shirts were clear to see.
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