Bruno Fernandes went from zero to hero while most of his teammates faltered as Manchester United narrowly eked out a 3-2 win over Brighton on Saturday.

Brighton dominated the game for the most part, conjuring up far more clearcut chances than their visitors, Manchester United. In fact, for much of the first half the Seagulls looked the likelier of the two sides to break the deadlock, and their 40th minute lead was well deserved, as Neal Maupay scored from the spot after Bruno Fernandes had brought Tariq Lamptey down in his box.

However, Manchester United hit back just a short while later, as Lewis Dunk accidentally tapped the ball into his own net at the end of Fernandes free-kick. Post the interval, Brighton continued being the more threatening team, but Manchester United grabbed the lead against the run of the play, as Marcus Rashford scored a fine goal after being set up by Bruno Fernandes.

Brighton remained dominant in the remainder of regulation time, before finally equalising deep in injury time, courtesy Solly March. However, Manchester United had a stroke of good fortune after full-time whistle, as the VAR adjudged Maupay to have handled the ball in his own box from Harry Maguire’s header, in what was the final set-piece of the game. Or was it?

Up stepped Bruno Fernandes to take the resulting penalty and he made no error in finding the back of the net, thereby handing Manchester United their first win of the 2020/21 season. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men.

David de Gea: 7/10

One of very few Manchester United players who can hold their head up high. For a player who has copped a lot of flak lately, de Gea was a player from whom Manchester United fans can have little complaints after Saturday. The Spanish international made three saves in the game, two of them being extremely crucial. Could not have done much to stop either Brighton goal.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka: 2/10

Wan-Bissaka was one of the latest to arrive for pre-season preparations at Manchester United, and it continues to show. The Englishman was horribly off pace all game and failed to keep up with the relentless Solly March. Going forward, the former Crystal Palace defender hardly contributed and was caught ball watching when March scored late in the game. Massive improvements needed.

Victor Lindelof: 4/10

Back into the side in place of Eric Bailly, Lindelof continued to be unimpressive at the onset of the season. While the Swede made 8 clearances and completed 4 interceptions, he was embarrassingly lethargic when closing down opponents, which meant de Gea faced a barrage of shots on Saturday. Has to pull his socks up quickly.

Harry Maguire: 5/10

Much like Lindelof, Maguire failed to make much of an impression at the back against Brighton. In fact, the only reason the Manchester United captain has received a higher rating is because of his contributions on the opposite end.

Maguire was instrumental in the first goal, with Lewis Dunk scoring the own goal after he put the Brighton skipper under pressure. Maguire then won the penalty that resulted in Bruno Fernandes’s match-winner. At the back, however, the Manchester United captain is back to the drawing board and ought to address the issues.

Luke Shaw: 5/10

Luke Shaw was the best of the lot among Manchester United defenders, although that hardly says much. The English international was still culpable of allowing Tariq Lamptey too much time and space to send in a number of crosses. Was involved quite a bit going forward, but his final delivery could do with some work.

Paul Pogba: 2/10

Another player who missed most of the post/pre-season ahead of 2020/21, which is why Pogba seems to be well off his best. In essence, it was a nothing performance from the Frenchman, who did not create a single chance during his stay on the pitch, did little work off the ball and also had the lowest passing accuracy among Manchester United players (71%). There will be better days.

Nemanja Matic: 7/10

While Pogba had a stinker, Matic was crucial in containing Brighton a lot of times when they were imposing themselves on Manchester United. The Serb showed, yet again, that he is irreplaceable in this Manchester United side, winning 9 duels and making as many recoveries. He even tested Mat Ryan with a long range effort and was reasonably accurate with the ball at his feet. Solid customer.

Mason Greenwood: 4/10

In the starting lineup for the first time this season, this was a frustrating outing for Mason Greenwood. Unlike his cameo against Luton Town, the attacking prodigy was hardly involved and was even rendered anonymous for large stretches of the game. He nearly had a goal to his name, though, only for Marcus Rashford to be pulled back for offside. On to the next one.

Bruno Fernandes: 7/10

This was a game in which Bruno Fernandes was involved from the first goal till the last. The Manchester United talisman first gave away the penalty that gave Brighton the lead. But, he quickly made amends with a whipped free-kick that helped Manchester United equalise courtesy an own goal.

Fernandes then set Marcus Rashford up for his goal, although the Englishman deserves most of the credit for that strike. The Portuguese could have arguably helped to stop March from scoring, but then turned up to score yet another penalty to hand Manchester United all three points. An all-action game, but one from which a lot of rectifications can be made.

Marcus Rashford: 6/10

Like most of his teammates, Rashford endured a frustrating game for the most part. However, the English international delivered the goods, scoring a wondrous solo goal that ought to do his confidence wonders.

Apart from that one moment, however, he was not at his best, with his shoddy positioning leaving a lot to be desired a couple of times. Nevertheless, Rashford would hope that his goalscoring exploits can be the start of his journey back to his best form.

Anthony Martial: 5/10

This was a bizarre game for Martial. The Frenchman showed brilliant footwork in the build-up to the disallowed Greenwood goal and had a couple of other notable moments. Other than that, he hardly did anything of note and took just one shot all game. Did win 4 duels and misplaced just 2 passes, but he needs to be doing more.


Fred: 6/10

On for Pogba, Fred helped settle the nerves in the latter stages of the game. He completed 13 of the 14 passes he attempted, keeping things simple to help see the game out.

Eric Bailly: N/A

Bailly replaced Greenwood to create a back-three in the Manchester United defence. Did not have a lot of time to make any impression.

Donny van de Beek: N/A

A late introduction, van de Beek hardly got involved.

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