The first chance of the match fell United’s way when Shane Duffy brought down Marcus Rashford just outside the box. Taking the free-kick himself, Rashford produced a menacing cross which Marouane Fellaini turned into the net, but his goal was ruled out as the linesman raised his flag for offside.
Under pressure from Chris Smalling, Jose Izquierdo cut inside and laid the ball off to Gross on the edge of the box who unleashed Brighton’s first shot on goal. His effort, though, was straight at David De Gea and was comfortably gathered by the Spaniard.
On 20 minutes, Glen Murray produced the best effort of the first half, a dipping effort from 25 yards which looked destined for the top left corner, only for De Gea to produce yet another of his trademark world-class saves.
At the other end, Paul Pogba had an effort from distance of his own but the Frenchman’s curling shot rose harmlessly over the bar of the Brighton goal.
Five minutes later, Izquierdo was again proving a threat from the left side, although his strike was diverted over by the fingertips of De Gea. From the following corner, Duffy glanced Gross’ cross in the direction of Murray who was left stretching for the ball at the back post.
The hosts had frustrated United for long periods of the first half and as the referee blew for half-time there was a desire for things to improve after the interval.