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100th-minute penalty saves Man United's blushes in Brighton

The Seagulls equalised deep in stoppage time, but there was still time for Solskjaer’s side to edge a five-goal thriller.

Image: PA

A HELTER-SKELTER contest culminated in a rollercoaster of a finish as Manchester United conceded a dramatic equaliser before claiming a 2-3 win over Brighton with the clock ticking beyond 99 minutes.

Bruno Fernandes converted the pressure 100th-minute penalty, awarded after Harry Maguire’s desperate late header was deflected by the arm of Neal Maupay.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men seemed to have earned the win much earlier through a brilliant solo effort from Marcus Rashford. And they had the ball in the net twice more, only to be foiled by the offside flag.

Brighton, meanwhile, rattled the woodwork five times and Ireland’s Aaron Connolly had two strong penalty appeals turned away by Var and referee Chris Kavanagh. But that did not account for half the drama.

In a frantic, open first-half, the hosts had David De Gea scrambling and his goal frame  shaking twice before taking the lead through Maupay’s 40th minute penalty.

The visitors’ defence had been stretched on numerous occasions, but as Tariq Lamptey was played down the right side of United’s penalty area, Bruno Fernandes’ late arrival tripped up the full back.

Maupay made no mistake with his chance from 12 yards, dinking a Panenka to De Gea’s right as the Spaniard dived to his left.

brighton-and-hove-albion-v-manchester-united-premier-league-amex-stadium Maupay coolly converts his penalty. Source: PA

The Seagulls’ advantage lasted less than three minutes however. After Luke Shaw won a free kick on the left flank, Fernandes whipped a dangerous ball across the six-yard box.

Nemanja Matic poked the ball back across goal and it went in off Lewis Dunk, who had earlier stuck the bar at the other end with a looping header, under pressure from Harry Maguire. The England defender wheeled away in celebration to claim he had the final touch but replays clearly showed the goal was Dunk’s fifth Premier League own-goal.

The second half began with United’s defence again looking vulnerable as Connolly broke free on the left and appeared to be tripped up in the area by Paul Pogba. Referee Kavanagh immediately pointed for a second penalty, but then opted to consult Var and overturned the penalty and a yellow card for the French midfielder.

United had the second of two disallowed goals minutes later. Rashford, who was offside before teeing up Mason Greenwood’s first-half finish, strayed ahead of the ball before turning the ball beyond Matthew Ryan.

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Rashford made his luck change by the 55th minute, storming onto a Fernandes through ball from his own half and dribbling to the heart of the penalty area, sending Ben White lunging to ground twice before blasting a shot on goal.

brighton-and-hove-albion-v-manchester-united-premier-league-amex-stadium Source: PA

Dunk’s deflection took the ball beyond Ryan again, but there was no doubt this time that the goal belonged to a United player.

Solly March had De Gea beaten with a crisp left foot strike on the hour, but the ball pinged back off the inside of the far post and away to safety.

Solskjaer moved to protect the lead by sending Fred on in place of Pogba, but Brighton were still able to create a gilt-edged chance with 15 minutes remaining as Leandro Trossard’s blast came back off the bar – the Belgian’s third time hitting the frame.

The chances kept coming for Brighton, but it was not until deep into injury time that they managed to beat De Gea a second time, March sneaking his way free in the area to powerfully head home a cross.

brighton-and-hove-albion-v-manchester-united-premier-league-amex-stadium Chris Kavanagh checks a VAR penalty decision in the final moments. Source: PA

The visitors appeared to have blown their lead, but there was time for one last press forward and it paid off for United. Maguire’s header back across goal was at first glance headed off the line by March. But he was not to be the hero of the hour as Kavanagh again turned to consult the technology and punish Maupay for his handball.

A raised forearm that cost his side a point for a valiant effort.

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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