Manchester United made it seven in a row under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as they narrowly beat Brighton & Hove Albion 2-1 at Old Trafford on Saturday.
On the occasion of Sir Matt Busby’s 25th death anniversary, Manchester United seemed to be consumed by the event, as they were off to a slow start. The chances though, gradually started flowing before the breakthrough finally came a few minutes before the half hour mark.
Paul Pogba, who had come close with an acrobatic effort just minutes earlier, was tripped inside the Brighton box by Gaetan Bong, and he finished off a trademark penalty coolly to give the hosts the lead. Both sides came close to finding the back of the net thereafter, before Manchester United doubled their lead.
Marcus Rashford linked up with Diogo Dalot on the left flank before shimmying past two defenders and beating David Button from a tight angle. In the second half, Manchester United continued dominating the proceedings, but clear-cut chances came few and far between as a number of players became leggy.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 19, 2019
Brighton though, pulled a goal back in the 72nd minute through Pascal Gross, who paved the way for an exciting finish to the game by finishing from Davy Propper’s goal. But, an equaliser never came for Chris Hughton’s charges, as Manchester United held on for the draw.
The result meant the Red Devils are just three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, who were beaten 2-0 by Arsenal later in the day. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men, who continued their perfect start under the caretaker manager.
David de Gea: 6/10
A largely quiet evening for de Gea, who only had two regulation saves to make apart from the shot he conceded the goal from. The Spaniard could not have done much to stop Gross’ goal. Did not distribute the ball as well as he has done lately, giving the ball away on a few occasions.
Ashley Young: 6.5/10
Despite initial fears that he might not be available, Young started and led Manchester United. But, the veteran Englishman wasn’t quite at his best against Brighton, not contributing as much as he usually does in the final third. Not troubled a lot at the back, he only suffered from a couple of hairy moments.
Victor Lindelof: 8/10
Lindelof has been the most consistent player at the back for Manchester United this season. And, he added another solid performance to his burgeoning profile, having contained Glenn Murray quite well for the most part. The Swede even created one superb chance for Anthony Martial, who was thwarted by David Button. Just continues improving.
Phil Jones: 6/10
Jones was enjoying a fine outing on Saturday, as he negated Pascal Gross and Murray with aplomb for much of the game. But, he failed to deal with Davy Propper’s cross, timing his jump improperly before Gross scored Brighton’s goal. Solid otherwise, but the sole reason for Manchester United losing their clean sheet.
Diogo Dalot: 7/10
A late addition to the Manchester United starting lineup after Luke Shaw pulled out due to illness. Dalot hardly put a foot wrong on the day, although his positioning was slightly suspect at times. A constant outlet on the left flank, the Portuguese also played a part in the winner, linking up well with Rashford.
Ander Herrera: 8/10
Impressive once again as Manchester United’s box-to-box midfielder, Herrera’s energy in the middle of the park helped Nemanja Matic immensely, especially with the Serb looking a little fatigued over the course of the game. His attacking output seems to have improved markedly as well, crossing the ball into dangerous areas regularly. A crucial part of the lineup amid his uncertain future.
Nemanja Matic: 7/10
Matic was not as colossal on Saturday as he has been for much of Solskjaer’s tenure. But, he still dealt with the threat of Gross quite impeccably. Could not move the ball forward as effortlessly as he had done in the last six games, which impacted his side’s forward momentum too.
Paul Pogba: 7.5/10
In what was an outing similar to the one against Newcastle United, Pogba was tackled out of the game for large parts. But, the Frenchman never stopped trying, which was symbolic in the overhead effort that nearly saw him open the scoring for Manchester United.
Paul Pogba under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer:
Games – 7
Goals – 5
Assists – 4
— United Xtra (@utdxtra) January 19, 2019
He did get his goal in the 27th minute, winning the penalty before he calmly slotted the ball into the top right corner. Pogba just continues to enjoy a whale of a time under the tutelage of Solskjaer, and he is now just one goal away from enjoying the most prolific campaign of his career.
Jesse Lingard: 6/10
Lingard was one of the weak links for Manchester United on Saturday, as he struggled to affect the proceedings as effectively as he can. In fact, the Englishman had the least touches on the ball – a paltry 31 – although he should have found the back of the net in the second half. Taken off for Juan Mata, with 15 minutes left in regulation time.
Marcus Rashford: 9/10
Rashford has been the man in form for Manchester United under Solskjaer, and he celebrated his 150th appearance for the Red Devils with a stunning goal. After collecting the ball from Dalot just outside the Brighton box, the young English international danced his way past two defenders before finding the top right corner from the most acute of angles.
The fan favourite just keeps on getting better and better with each passing game, and it looks like it will take Lukaku something out of the ordinary to win his place back.
Marcus Rashford at Manchester United:
⚽️ 41 goals
🎯 23 assists
❄️ 13 match-winning goals
🏆 4 trophies
🔥 goals vs. Liverpool, City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs
🌎 at his feet. pic.twitter.com/GWu6QOprGZ
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) January 19, 2019
Anthony Martial: 7/10
Martial has not quite managed to hit the heights that he had under Mourinho this season, and Saturday’s outing was more of the same. While the Frenchman did look dangerous with his directness, he ought to have scored at least once. Should be doing better even though he is looking good in bits and pieces.
Juan Mata: 6/10
On for the last 15 minutes, Mata had to work harder off the ball than on it, and he worked his socks off to ensure Manchester United did not concede another goal.
Romelu Lukaku: N/A
On for the last 10 minutes or so, Lukaku barely had any time to make an impact. Would continue to be left frustrated with his time on the bench.
Matteo Darmian: N/A
Introduced just to waste time.