Manchester United failed to build on their last minute triumph against Arsenal with a gutless display against a Brighton and Hove Albion side who in truth simply wanted it more.
The Seagulls’ 1-0 win, through a Pascal Groß header given by goal line technology, sparked jubilant celebrations at half-time as those on the south coast knew that their first ever win against the Red Devils since 1982.
That was in fact their only win against United until Jose Mourinho’s side travelled down the country to be humbled by yet another promoted side from last year.
With Antonio Valencia rested and Romelu Lukaku injured it was a chance for the so-called firnge players to prove their worth and impress a manager who many United supporters say needs to be ruthless in the upcoming summer transfer window.
And it was one of those, Marouanne Fellaini, given a starting place after his late heroics agaisnt Arsenal the week before, who nearly made an impact again. But this time the Belgian’s tap-in from a Marcus Rashford free-kick was judged offside just after two minutes and the goal was disallowed.
Brighton responded emphatcially to what was nearly an early set-back, Glenn Murray striking a long distance volley from 35 yards out but in the end David De Gea managed to claw the ball around the post to deny the English striker what would’ve been one of the goals of the season.
Yet Brighton’s willingness to pass the ball out of the back in a neat fashion can be dangerous against high pressing sides and on 25 minutes it nearly cost them when Rashford won the loose ball just outside the box, but his decision making was diabolical after he failed to find Anthony Martial in the box.
By now the game had became fast, frentic and ferocious in places but neither team could find that killer ball to get in behind the defence, long shots from Bruno and Paul Pogba a signal that was the case.
But on 52 minutes a lucky break for Murray down the left side allowed the forward to use some turn of pace to place an inch perfect cross onto the head of Groß, who’s attempt found its way across the line even with the clearance of the valiant Marcos Rojo.
It was incredibly the Seagulls’ first goal in the league against United since 1983, and one that meant a great deal to those waering blue and white in the stadium.
The expectation was that United would respond with ferocity but instead of a full fledged lion their attack had the potency of a baby jaguar.
A Jesse Lingard shot from the edge of the box was in all honesty the closesy they came, United thinking more about the upcoming FA Cup Final than anything else.
For Brighton that was a blessing as they are now mathematically safe. Just under a decade ago the club were battling administration in the courts. On Friday United were just another witness in Brighton’s fairytale story.