Manchester United 1, Brighton 0: Controversial goal sees Albion miss out on deserved point at Old Trafford

A luckless Brighton & Hove Albion were left to rue a controversial and deflected goal which meant a superb showing at Manchester United failed to reap any reward.

Saturday, 25th November 2017, 5:02 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 6:41 am
Solly March and Antonio Valencia battle for the ball as Brighton & Hove Albion took on Manchester United at Old Trafford. Picture by PW Sporting Pics

Ashley Young's 66th-minute effort took a huge deflection off Lewis Dunk as the defender attempted a trademark block and ended up in the top corner for the only goal of the game.

And Albion were left to rue the goal coming from a corner which they felt should not have been, but their protests were ignored as United extended their winning run to eight Premier League games at Old Trafford.

The result means the Manchester giants are unbeaten in 24 league games at home and 39 in all competitions at home and away, while it ended the Seagulls' five-game unbeaten run.

Gaetan Bong tracks Marcus Rashford as Brighton & Hove Albion took on Manchester United at Old Trafford. Picture by PW Sporting Pics

Despite defeat, it was another superbly-organised defensive showing from Albion in the first half, something that Chris Hughton has masterfully overseen many times this season.

Glenn Murray played a solo striker role brilliantly, finding at least five yards of space and knocking the ball off for the visitors to counter-attack when United pressure broke down during the opening 45 minutes.

While Albion did prove tricky to break down, Mathew Ryan was the savior on the stroke of half-time with a sublime double stop on the line to deny Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba.And after the goal, the visitors had a number of decent openings in the area to rescue a deserved point.

Despite being the first game of a hectic week and busy fixture period, Albion made one change from the team that drew 2-2 with Stoke City at the Amex on Monday.

Brighton & Hove Albion huddle ahead of Manchester United clash at Old Trafford. Picture by PW Sporting Pics

Recently-married Solly March came into the XI to make his 50th start for the Seagulls, meaning Jose Izquierdo dropped to the bench. A welcome sight was Beram Kayal among the substitutes for the first time this season having recovered from his broken leg.

United were unchanged from the side that won 4-1 at Newcastle United in the Premier League last week, but made seven changes from their 1-0 midweek Champions League defeat against Basel. Chris Smalling, Pogba, Martial and Romelu Lukaku were the only survivors from the side in Switzerland.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic proved only fit enough for the bench, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan was also a substitute along with 20-year-old midfielder Scott McTominay.

It was the home side that had the first chance in the third minute as Martial played a neat ball to Lukaku on the edge of the box, but despite having space, the striker skewed horribly high and wide.

At the other end Albion replied as Anthony Knockaert picked up a return pass from Pascal Gross, but the German was unable to find Murray with a low cross.

A lovely sweeping move from Albion deserved more on 12 minutes after Murray held the ball up on the break and it was switched left then right, before Bruno rode a challenge on the byline and cut-back to Gross, but David De Gea easily collected his low shot.

At one end, March sprung the offside trap and raced away, but a poor pass gifted possession away and United broke quickly to opposite box where Martial went down, but appeals for a penalty were waved away by referee Neil Swarbrick.

Chances were few and far between, before United created one of the better with ten minutes of the half remaining. Antonio Valencia stood a ball up to the far post, but despite rising highest, an under pressure Lukaku could only head wide. At the other end, a Gross free kick was flicked on into a dangerous position, but was just too far ahead of a stretching Murray.

Ryan made a sensational double stop on the stroke of half-time as he blocked a point-blank Lukaku header on the line and then somehow kept out Pogba's low follow-up, again from two yards.

Albion had the first chance of the second half as Knockaert laid the ball off to Gross and a quick turn saw him flash a low ball across the goalmouth, which was inches away from Murray.

With Albion sitting deeper, Jose Mourinho turned to Ibrahimovic just past the hour mark which roused a previously quiet United crowd.

That changed in the 66th minute as the home side took the lead with a huge slice of luck. Young picked up a Rashford corner on the edge of the box and his effort took a big deflection off an attempted Dunk block and looped into the top corner, as Albion protests that it should not have been a corner fell on deaf ears.

The visitors fought to get back in the game as a maurading Dunk went close and with Tomer Hemed and Izquierdo off the bench, Knockaert played a low cross right across the face of the United goal, before Bruno on the overlap did exactly the same.

Late on, Shane Duffy almost levelled but his glancing header from a Gross free kick to the far post was just wide as time ran out for the travelling side.

United: De Gea, Valencia, Lindelof, Smalling, Young, Martial (Mkhitaryan 71), Matic, Pogba, Mata (Ibrahimovic 62), Rashford (Fellaini 80), Lukaku. Unused subs: Rojo, Romero, Herrera, McTominay.

Albion: Ryan, Bruno, Duffy, Dunk, Bong, Knockaert, Stephens, Propper, March (Hemed 71), Gross (Brown 78), Murray (Izquierdo 71). Unused subs: Krul, Goldson, Schelotto, Kayal.

Attendance: 75,018.

Referee: Neil Swarbrick.