Brighton 0-3 Manchester United: Bruno Fernandes strikes twicejuin 30, 2020
Forget a behind-closed-doors training match, this bore more resemblance to a walk in a park for Manchester United.
In this mood, they are nailed on for Champions League football. This was absolutely devastating; Brighton had no answer.
In truth, this performance from Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer’s in-form team would leave most of their Premier League rivals floored.
Bruno Fernandes starred with two goals as Manchester United completed a dominant win away to Brighton on Tuesday night
Teenage striker Mason Greenwood opened the scoring on 11 minutes with a well-taken strike for the visitors
Brighton suffered their first defeat since the Premier League season restarted following coronavirus pandemic
In the end it was three, Marcus Greenwood’s opener supplemented by Bruno Fernandes’ brace to close the gap on Chelsea in the race for fourth to just two points.
But it could easily have been double that.
Solsjkaer made eight changes from the team that edged past Norwich in the FA Cup at the weekend; this another opportunity to develop the promising Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes midfield axis.
By the end it wasn’t hard to understand why the combination has United fans salivating.
This result saw United overtake Wolves into fifth.
Of course fifth, depending on how Manchester City’s European ban appeal goes, could be enough for United to regain entry back into the Champions League.
But this is United, they shouldn’t be slipping in through the back door – their Norwegian manager, with all his pedigree, knows that better than anybody.
On this evidence, they surely won’t have to as they stretched their unbeaten run to 15 games.
United’s fortunes won’t be of any concern to Graham Potter. Staying in the division is the be-all-and-end-all for Brighton and their promising young manager.
An unbeaten start to Project Restart prior to this defeat had inched the Seagulls towards their holy grail.
They’ll have to wait a while longer to reach that magical 40 point mark – but there’s no reason for Potters men to be too downhearted after this loss.
United, in this nick, are a match for anybody.
In keeping with their recent upsurge United made a confident start, Anthony Martial’s ominous spin inside the Brighton area causing panic in the home defence a sign of what was to follow.
We caught a glimpse of why so much is expected of the Pogba and Fernandes partnership in the 12 minute, the former laying on an inch perfect pass into his team-mate’s path only for the Portuguese’s shot from 20 yards to cannon off the post.
Marcus Rashford then saw his penalty appeal rebuffed by referee Andre Marriner moments later following Dan Burn’s clumsy challenge.
Brighton, put simply, were there for the taking and United looked in no mood to let them off the hook.
United’s opener arrived in the 16th minute, Marcus Greenwood driving into the area, threw in a few step-overs for good measure, before firing an unstoppable shot past Mat Ryan.
You feared the worst for Brighton. Pogba was strutting around the Amex like he owned the place, Greenwood was proving again why it’s only a matter of time before he earns a full England call-up and Fernandes – as ever – oozed class and vision.
The Portuguese oozed class and vision as he struck his sixth United goal since joining the club in January
When the hosts did manage to venture up the pitch, David de Gea kept them out with some fine saves
And then, whenever Brighton even dared venture anyway near David De Gea’s goal, Nemanja Matic or Harry Maguire were on hand to slam the door directly back in their face.
United’s second arrived in the 30th minute – almost a carbon copy of the scenario that saw Fernandes strike the post earlier on, only this time the Portuguese’s strike from Pogba’s pass crept inside Ryan’s post.
Much of the damage was caused before hand, Rashford and Luke Shaw brilliantly ripping Brighton’s right side to pieces before Pogba and Fernandes took over.
Brighton couldn’t wait for half-time, United appeared happy to play until the morning.
Solskjaer’s team were thrilling, exciting and dogged all in equal measure. All the ingredients are there.
Qualifying for the Champions League will inevitably aid their recruitment goals this summer. But with the right additions and Solskjaer could be onto something.
Brighton toiled and admirably kept to their passing principles – but couldn’t lay a glove on United.
But Potter’s side shouldn’t be overly criticised for this performance – their ultimate judgement day arrives at the end of the season.
United, though, were in devastating mood.
And fair play to the Seagulls, they tried to make a fist of it in the second half, causing United more problems in the opening three minutes of the half than they did the entire first half.
But United were in destructive mood and added a third in the 49th minute, Fernandes scoring his sixth goal since arriving from Sporting Lisbon in January with a thumping back-post volley from Greenwood’s pinpoint cross.
If it wasn’t already: game over. Credit to Brighton they kept plugging away; substitute Leandro Trossard twice going close to cutting the deficit.
But this was United’s night. By the looks of things, Solsjkaer’s men will have many more nights like this to follow.
Re-live all of the action with Sportsmail here