Maybe Manchester United didn’t deserve to beat Brighton and Hove Albion Saturday. Maybe it really is better to be lucky than good.
Little Brighton dominated the Red Devils from start to finish, owning the majority of the ball outshooting its more decorated foe 18-7.
But just when it looked as though Marcus Rashford’s brilliant individual effort would stand up as the winner, Solly March scored to make it 2-2 five minutes into second half stoppage time, a point looked like nothing less than the Seagulls deserved:
Then Neal Maupay — who had put the hosts ahead 1-0 with a cheeky “Panenka” penalty kick late in the first half — was flagged for a handball by the video assistant referee, and Bruno Fernandes stepped up to fire home the winning strike in the 100th minute of the match:
The call on Maupay was correct. But United’s 3-2 victory was still controversial. Brighton thought it had been awarded another penalty earlier in the contest, but after consulting with VAR and checking the replay, referee Chris Kavanagh reversed his on-field call despite it not looking like a “clear and obvious” error as required.
Truth be told, the Seagulls were unlucky all afternoon. Defender Lewis Dunk cancelled out Maupay’s opener before the teams could get into the dressing room at halftime when he inadvertently kicked the ball into his own net two minutes before the intermission:
Brighton also his the post and the crossbar with shots late in the second half.
Still, United will be more than happy to take all three points after suffering an upset loss to Crystal Palace last weekend. They may not have deserved them, but the late drama was reminiscent of the English titan’s “Fergie Time” glory days in the 1990s and 2000s when under legendary Scottish manager Sir Alex Ferguson the Red Devils routinely stole wins late in games, most notably the 1999 Champions League final. Current Red Devils boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had the tournament winner that night.
Brighton won’t have to wait long for another crack at Man United. The two sides will meet at the Seagulls’ American Express Stadium for the second time in five days on Wednesday for a League Cup fourth round tilt.
Solskjaer’s team will resume its Premier League slate when it hosts Tottenham at Old Trafford next Sunday, a day after the Seagulls meet Everton in Liverpool.
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