Manchester United suffered a first defeat of the Premier League season as three first-half strikes from Brighton and Hove Albion ultimately proved to be the difference on the south coast.
Glenn Murray put the hosts ahead on 25 minutes with Shane Duffy doubling the Seagulls lead two minutes later. The Reds were offered a glimmer of hope as Romelu Lukaku headed in his first goal of the campaign just after the half-hour mark, but seconds before the break Brighton restored their two-goal cushion, as Pascal Gross slotted home from the spot after Eric Bailly has fouled him in the box.
The second half was a less frenetic affair despite United having the lion’s share of possession. Paul Pogba forced a good save out of Brighton keeper Maty Ryan with a shot from range, but even though the Frenchman scored from the spot deep into stoppage time, the Reds lost out on a disappointing afternoon at the Amex Stadium.
Despite the early pressure from the Reds, the hosts started to grow into the game with Anthony Knockaert dragging a shot wide of the far post after 20 minutes. Moments later they took the lead as Solly March’s low cross into the penalty area was touched past David De Gea by Murray.
Shane Duffy doubled the Seagulls’ advantage two minutes later. A Brighton corner wasn’t cleared by the Reds, and Knockaert laid the ball off to the defender who calmly slotted it past De Gea.
The Reds were given a lifeline seven minutes later as Ashley Young’s corner found Luke Shaw. The defender looped the ball back into danger and Lukaku was there to head home his first goal of the campaign and give the United faithful some hope.
However, when it looked like the Reds had a route back into the game, Bailly brought down Gross inside the box and referee Kevin Friend awarded a penalty. The German made no mistake from the spot and restored the Seagulls’ two-goal advantage going into the half-time interval.
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For the second half, Jose Mourinho made two attacking substitutions, bringing on Marcus Rashford and former Brighton loanee, Jesse Lingard, as the Reds searched for a route back into the game.
United won an early corner after the break, but while Young’s set-piece was able to find Pogba, the Frenchman’s header was flicked wide of the far post. Martial and Shaw linked up well on the left and the defender looked to gain another assist, but while it was another great delivery into the box, there was no United player there to get a finishing touch to it.
On the hour-mark, Mourinho made his final substitution of the afternoon as Anthony Martial made way for Marouane Fellaini. Soon after, another chance fell the way of the Reds as Pogba played a clever reverse pass into Rashford. Lukaku couldn’t quite get to the cross and Brighton defender Leon Balogun was able to clear the threat.
United: De Gea; Young, Lindelof, Bailly, Shaw; Pogba (c), Fred, A.Pereira (Lingard 46); Mata (Rashford 46), Lukaku, Martial (Fellaini 60).
Subs not used: Grant, Smalling, Herrera, McTominay.
Booked: Martial (45)
Brighton & Hove Albion: Ryan (GK); Montoya, Duffy, Dunk (c) (Balogun 20), Bong; Knockaert, Stephens, Propper, March; Gross (Kayal 90); Murray (Locadia 90+3).
Subs not used: Button, Bernardo, Bissouma, Jahanbakhsh
Booked: Murray (66)
Referee: Kevin Friend