Manchester United moved back into the top half of the Premier League table after securing only their second league win since mid-September with a 3-1 victory over Brighton.
Andreas Perreira’s deflected strike and a Davy Propper own goal sent United into an early two-goal lead, and though Lewis Dunk briefly got Brighton back in it, Marcus Rashford sealed the three points midway through the second half.
The 3-0 triumph over Partizan had come as the result of some much-desired free-flowing, attacking football, and United started in similar fashion here as the pace of Daniel James, Anthony Martial and Rashford gave the visitors all sorts of problems.
However, there was nothing picture-perfect about either of the hosts two first half goal. First, Perreira opened the scoring with the help of an almighty deflection that completely wrong-footed Mat Ryan, before Scott McTominay’s goalbound poke was helped over the line by Propper after Harry Maguire and Dunk had battled in the air.
ropper own goal sent United into an early two-goal lead, and though Lewis Dunk briefly got Brighton back in it, Marcus Rashford sealed the three points midway through the second half.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made five changes to the side that had secured Europa League qualification in the win over Partizan on Thursday. Scott McTominay and Victor Lindelof were both passed fit to start, while Brandon Williams was handed a full debut in place of the suspended Ashley Young at left-back.
The Seagulls took an increasingly robust approach to dealing with United’s attacking threat, with four men carded before the interval, but did ask questions of their own, particularly from set-pieces, and had it been Dunk or Shane Duffy left unmarked to meet Leandro Trossard’s free-kick, rather than little Aaron Connolly, the deficit may have been halved.
Graham Potter made a double change at the break, sending on Glenn Murray and Solly March, and when the hour-mark arrived without the visitors having threatened to get back into the game Pascal Gross joined them, too.
When his corner was bulleted home by Dunk, finally punishing United’s lacklustre set-piece defending, Potter’s side briefly had hope, but United hit back almost immediately to restore the two-goal cushion as Rashford lashed in off the underside of the crossbar.
The England forward’s finishing had been under scrutiny in midweek, as he scored but also missed several good chances, and it was a similar story here as Rashford’s next contribution was to somehow turn James’s cross wide from within six yards with the goal gaping.
A United bombardment followed, and only Ryan kept the scoreline respectable, with Rashford, James and Williams all going close, as United to continued to show the kind of attacking improvement that Solskjaer has been craving.