Report: Brighton 0 United 3
In much less dramatic fashion this time, Manchester United once again left the South Coast with a victory as we booked a place in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup thanks to another professional 3-0 triumph.
The Reds ran out winners by the same scoreline in the last round, away to Luton Town, and Scott McTominay set Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men on our way with a header on the stroke of half-time. Captain-for-the-night Juan Mata slotted home his 50th United goal, before substitute Paul Pogba saw his deflected free-kick fly in late on.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made 10 changes to the side that so dramatically beat the Seagulls on Saturday in the league, with Victor Lindelof the sole survivor from the 3-2 win. Harry Maguire missed out with a slight knock, meaning Mata skippered the Reds. Brighton, meanwhile, made nine changes from the weekend.
Action from the AmexGallery
See the best photos from United's 3-0 Carabao Cup win at Brighton...
FIRST HALF – REDS END THE HALF ON TOPAmid the driving rain, United started brightly and strung together a lovely move on 17 minutes when Mata spread a brilliant ball out to Brandon Williams on the left. The youngster returned the favour, finding our stand-in skipper in the box. The Spaniard’s first time cross into Odion Ighalo led to the striker taking the ball around Brighton stopper Jason Steele but firing just wide.
The hosts took a while to get going but Dean Henderson was alert to the danger when Alireza Jahanbakhsh fired a low curler goalwards from outside the box. Fred did the same at the other end but Steele claimed it.
Alexis Mac Allister and Jahanbakhsh each took aim before half-time, but both efforts flew over Henderson’s crossbar.
A minute before the break, the Reds went ahead through McTominay. After being felled by Dan Burn, who earned a booking for his foul, Mata dusted himself down and curled in a precise cross for McTominay to clinically head home for United.
SECOND HALF – UNITED SEAL QUARTER-FINAL SPOT
Both sides enjoyed spells of possession at the start of the second period although Brighton lost Jahanbakhsh to a hamstring injury early on. Fred tested Steele with a free-kick on 53 minutes but the Seagulls man was equal to it.
Thereafter the home side stepped up their search for an equaliser and they couldn’t have gone much closer through substitute Leandro Trossard, the man who hit the woodwork three times against the Reds at the weekend. Battling play from Jayson Molumby, as he lay on the floor, saw the ball roll out to Pascal Gross on the right and his cross found Trossard, but Henderson brilliantly stuck out a strong hand to deflect the shot wide.
United took full advantage of that save when an intricate move unfolded between Donny van de Beek and Mata, with the former superbly backheeling the ball into the Spaniard's path in the area, and he coolly guided the ball home for his 50th United strike.
Then substitute Paul Pogba curled a deflected free-kick past Steele, as the Reds completed the job with aplomb.
Brighton: Steele, White, Dunk (c), Mac Allister, Gross, Jahanbakhsh (Maupay 50), Bernardo, Burn, Veltman, Gyokeres (Trossard 63), Molumby.
Subs not used: Sanchez, Sanders, Cochrane, Roberts, Jenks.
Booked: Burn, Veltman
United: Henderson; Dalot, Bailly, Lindelof, Williams; McTominay, Fred (Lingard 81); Mata (c), van de Beek, James (Pogba 68); Ighalo (Rashford 68).
Subs not used: Grant, Fosu-Mensah, Mengi, Greenwood.
Goals: McTominay 44, Mata 73, Pogba 80
Ole admits he has selection decisions to make
While delivering his verdict on the win, the boss heaps praise on the squad and admits his players have impressed him...
Ole's praise for Mata
"Juan is the ultimate professional. It never surprises you when he plays like that. He's been around the block, he knows football. He can see, he runs away from Dan Burn there, holds him off and gets a foul. You can see in the second half he does his work. There was a long ball to our back stick and Juan was there again to shield it out against Dan Burn who's probably got about a foot [height advantage] on him. I'm very pleased with him, it was a fantastic goal."
MAN OF THE MATCH
Juan Mata was the overriding choice in our Man of the Match poll: the playmaker collected 60 per cent of the votes. It was he who created our best chance of the first half, for Odion Ighalo, before McTominay scored from his inswinging free-kick. Mata pulled the strings throughout and his 50th Reds goal came 17 minutes from time - a lovely controlled finish into the corner. Thanks to everyone who voted in our poll.
Mata's classy finish was his 50th United strike. The skipper for the evening rolled the ball home beautifully after a sublime backheel from Donny van de Beek. It's six-and-a-half years since the 32-year-old netted his first United goal, at home to Aston Villa, in March 2014 during a 4-1 victory. The latest milestone follows his 250th game for the club, in the 3-0 win over Sheffield United back in June.