Manchester United extended their unbeaten run to fifteen games with an ominous and devastating attacking display to break their Amex Stadium hoodoo in spectacular style.
The Reds had suffered successive south coast horror shows at the new (ish) home of the Seagulls but purred to an ominous and devastating victory to move back to within two points of Chelsea and three behind a faltering Leicester.
It felt weird to see United so comfortable from minute one to 90, some of the football the Reds played was out of this world and – although we have a long way to go to get close to Liverpool or even City – this Reds side is growing by the week.
On a night when everything seemed to go right, it was a pleasure to watch and United were scintillating at times. Here are our player ratings:
David de Gea – 8
Had little to do until the last 15 minutes when the game was already in the bag. Made two good saves late on, the first of which in particular from Aaron Connolly was a blinder. Also denied lively sub Leandro Trossard to preserve a second consecutive clean sheet. On a night when those in front of him ran the show, De Gea perhaps won’t get talked about but despite rarely being tested he kept his concentration and did his job when he had to.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka – 7
Back-to-back assists for United’s brilliant, buccaneering right back as he laid on the first goal for Mason Greenwood and got forward at every opportunity – not bad for a man whom supposedly can’t cross. This lad just loves defending, but had little of that to do so instead enjoyed himself linking up with Mason Greenwood. Never seems to quite get the credit he deserves but another quietly impressive showing.
Victor Lindelof – 7
Made a couple of good clearances after half time and was kept on his toes by the busy and impressive substitute Trossard, dealing with the Belgian well. Restored to the team, the Iceman kept his cool and perhaps continues to creep under the radar. Another quietly impressive performance. There will be tougher tests to come but for the first time in what seems like an eternity, United have a settled and reliable centre-back pairing
Harry Maguire – 8
One of only three to keep their places from the win over Norwich, Maguire had a far less dramatic evening this time but still impressed. Organising and playing out from the back at every opportunity, Maguire’s distribution was good and he made a couple of good tackles to help steer his side to another clean sheet. Good again.
Luke Shaw – 6
Involved in the second goal if not directly responsible for it, this was Shaw’s fifteenth consecutive start and he again had a solid game without doing anything special. Linked the defence with the attack to good effect but, like the rest of his colleagues in the back four, he had nothing to do in a comfortable victory. He’s now firmly established as United’s first choice left back and looked threatening at times. Shaw’s got a good engine and never seems to get tired, his fitness has really improved.
Nemanja Matic – 9
Another dominant and string-pulling performance from United’s Rolls Royce. Used the ball well, constantly kept the team moving with a stunning array of passes and started the move that led to United’s throwback third with a sizzling volleyed ping. Dovetailed between mopping up the danger and starting attacks from deep. Fred and Scott McTominay have done nothing wrong and don’t deserve to be left out, but this man is simply undroppable at present. In the form of his life, Matic has been like a new signing and has been simply magnificent. A player reborn and all credit to him.
Paul Pogba – 8
Another rendition of the Pogba-Bruno double act and the Frenchman was in the mood again. Again, he is akin to a new signing with his power, pace and precision. Set up the second goal for Bruno with a nice pass and seemed everywhere at times, the pair working together brilliantly. Pogba has had his critics but when he’s in the form, there’s no denying his mighty talent. His future may still uncertain, but he looks noticeably happier and it shows. C’est magnifique.
Mason Greenwood – 9
On a day when Jadon Sancho emerged as Manchester United’s top transfer target, Greenwood was started in the position Sancho would play in and added another goal to his growing collection. 18 years of age and a generational talent with an enormous future, Greenwood now has 13 for the season – an impressive return in his breakthrough debut season. You can see why he’s so highly rated. Flitted in an out of the game at times but you expect that for a young player and he linked well with Wan-Bissaka, pulling the strings from the right and using his lethal pace and direct running to terrorise Brighton and set up United’s world class third. Plays with a maturity and an intelligence beyond his years. Robin Mason van Greenwood.
Bruno Fernandes – 10
I really am running out of superlatives for this man. Looked jaded at Norwich on Saturday, but here he was omnipotent, had Brighton bending to his will and ran the show as the conductor of the orchestra. Passed them into submission, scored two stunning goals and should have had a hat-trick, hitting the post with the game goalless. His second goal, our third, was the culmination of a sweeping counter-attack straight out of the 2008 vintage. A born winner, a leader and the heartbeat of a side growing before our eyes. Fernandes clearly demands nothing but 100% from those around him but in a way that just makes you love him. A player that has simply transformed a football club. Imagine where we’d be if we had signed him in January. Brighton couldn’t get him near him, he oozed class and charisma and earned a well-deserved breather after 60 minutes. Even if he’d only played ten minutes he’d have been my man of the match. Battered Brighton, served them with chips and left the Seagulls feeling blue. Magnificent.
Marcus Rashford – 5
The one player in this side that appears to be a bit of a loose cannon at the minute. Tried his heart out but barely got in the game and never looked like scoring. When the league restarted, the prospect of a fully fit Rashford was exciting but he’s not been right since lockdown and his return from injury. Another quiet night for United’s joint top scorer. Brighton were all over the place at times but kept a lid on Rashford. Got taken off with 12 minutes to go. Still looks rusty.
Anthony Martial – 5
On a night when United simply sizzled at times, Martial had one of his quieter games. Had a couple of chances either side of half-time but, strangely, given how cohesive we were, he looked isolated at times but did make some good runs to create space for the likes of Bruno and Pogba. Fresh from his hat-trick against Sheffield United, he will be disappointed not to get amongst the goals here having been held back at Norwich in readiness for this one. Replaced by Ighalo for the last 12 minutes, it was not the best night for United’s number nine.
Brandon Williams – for Shaw 64′ – 6
Came on with United cruising as Shaw made a fifteenth successive start and could have scored with a header. Had little to do but made some good runs and played his part in another clean sheet. Ensured that United’s left side was kept nicely ticking over.
Scott McTominay – for Pogba 64” – 6
United’s fast start allowed Solskjaer to give his big guns a rest and Pogba was one of those, replaced by McTominay who now – somewhat unfairly – seems second choice because of Matic. Went close to a fourth goal and got stuck in. Again, with the game won he didn’t really need to do anything major. Sprayed the ball around nicely and kept possession well.
Andreas Pereira – for Fernandes 64′ – 5
Got a chance to show he still has a future at the club and had a few nice touches. Never going to get in the team ahead of Fernandes but allowed Ole to rest the Portuguese and got some minutes in the legs.
Odion Ighalo, Dan James – for Martial, Rashford 78′ – N/A
Having started at Norwich, Ighalo was demoted to the bench and came on in the closing stages with United already out of sight. Made no impact and simply got a run out. James made a couple of darting runs and had a few efforts, but he’s raw and his IQ isn’t there yet. Started United’s first game after lockdown but has had to settle for two brief cameos since.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (manager) – 9
Solskjaer gambled with United’s FA Cup future at Norwich by making eight changes but restored his big guns at Brighton and it worked. United got the result in a must win game and looked very good, fluent and cohesive for most of the night. The Reds are more than simply counter-attacking merchants now and Ole set them up to go out on the front foot. Yes it was ‘only’ Brighton (I hate it when people say that) but it’s fifteen unbeaten now and we’re taking shape. A great performance, some stunning goals, a clean sheet and another win. You can’t complain can you..