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'They gave us probably the hardest match we've had this season'

Brighton performance merited more than the 1-0 defeat handed to them, admitted Man United boss Jose Mourinho.

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.

Updated at 19.40

MANCHESTER UNITED MANAGER Jose Mourinho was prepared to admit that Saturday’s 1-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion was tough on the visitors, whom he described as his side’s toughest opposition this season.

The Seagulls matched United for large periods at Old Trafford as the hosts struggled to create clear-cut openings, barring Mat Ryan’s excellent double save from Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba at the end of the first half.

When the deadlock was broken midway through the second period it was done so with more than a healthy slice of fortune as Ashley Young’s shot from 20 yards deflected wickedly off Lewis Dunk, looping up over Ryan and into the top-right corner.

Mourinho watched his side pass up a plethora of chances in Wednesday’s 1-0 Champions League loss to Basel, so was happy to see his side escape with three points on this occasion and move to within five of Premier League leaders Manchester City.

“I want to be honest and give them what they deserve, for me probably they deserve more than the result they got,” Mourinho said in quotes reported by BBC Sport.

“They played really well, they had a good defensive organisation and then when they had the ball they were dangerous. Honestly I think Brighton was very, very good.

“They gave us probably the hardest match we’ve had this season. We had amazing chances a couple of days ago and we couldn’t score, today we did it.

“Congratulations to them for their performance, congratulations to my boys. My boys they didn’t play well but they gave everything. The boys they don’t deserve bad words from me.

I think we were more spirit and heart than quality. Sometimes to play with too many attacking players doesn’t mean you are offensive. We had a lot of attacking players on the pitch but we lose a bit of control in midfield.”

When asked if it was a mistake to select such an attacking line-up with Juan Mata, Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial all in support of Lukaku, Mourinho pointed to last weekend’s rout of Newcastle United.

“No I don’t regret because I picked them against Newcastle and we won 4-1,” he said.

It is the reality of football sometimes, to have too many attacking players on the pitch, sometimes you lose balance and don’t create many chances.

“We play amazingly well in the first half against Basel and we lost so the most important thing are the points.”

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