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Opinion: Manchester United still far away from being top-four contenders after lucky Brighton win

A last-minute penalty from Bruno Fernandes won the day for Man United
A last-minute penalty from Bruno Fernandes won the day for Man United
ANALYST
Modified 26 Sep 2020, 23:12 IST
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Manchester United went into Saturday’s Premier League game against Brighton & Hove Albion with just one mission, to win convincingly.

They managed to achieve the former, courtesy an own goal, a brilliant Marcus Rashford finish and Bruno Fernandes’ last-gasp penalty. However, it certainly wasn’t convincing.

No matter how you choose to look at it, the Red Devils got lucky in the 3-2 win and on another day, they could have easily lost the game.

The Seagulls hit the woodwork five times, a Premier League record, and really tested David de Gea. Meanwhile, Manchester United laboured to create chances at the other end.

ERashford showed great composure to put Man United 2-1 up
ERashford showed great composure to put Man United 2-1 up

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looked on as if he was clueless at times. Against Crystal Palace last week, the Norwegian was criticised for his team selection.

Manchester United's big guns struggle to deliver

Today, though, he played his best players. Nemanja Matic, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and the prodigious Mason Greenwood returning to the starting line-up.

And yet, the team was still not good enough. Even worse, their defensive frailties once against showed as Brighton looked dangerous at every attack.

The Seagulls’ first goal came through a penalty, after Fernandes clumsily clattered into Tariq Lamptey, but Manchester United fought back to overturn the result.

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Ole's Reds will need to massively improve to make the top four

At 2-1, the Red Devils looked like they had done enough to steal the win. That was until a lapse in concentration at the back allowed Solly March to head home a 94th-minute equaliser, unmarked at the far post.

There was, however, still time for Manchester United to find the winner after Harry Maguire’s goal-bound header brushed Neal Maupay's hand in the final seconds of the game.

Thankfully, Fernandes stepped up and, as he has consistently done since moving to Old Trafford, expertly sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to secure all three points.

Manchester United may have won, but it was a fortuitous victory, rather than a convincing display. They will need to improve to become real contenders for the top four, let alone mount a Premier League title challenge.

Published 26 Sep 2020, 23:12 IST
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