Brighton & Hove Albion secured their Premier League status for the 2018-19 seasons as Pascal Gross’ goal-line technology-assisted winner down a much-changed Manchester United side at the Amex Stadium on Friday night.
The visitors started with a number of fringe players on the field, but many of them failed their auditions for a place in José Mourinho’s FA Cup Final squad as Chris Hughton’s brilliant Brighton took control right from the get-go and deservedly came away with three points.
Pascal Gross, the Seagulls’ Player of the Year, directed the ball inches past David de Gea’s line in the 57th minute to send the South coast faithful into a frenzy as they dramatically retained their place in the top-flight of English football.
Even a point would’ve all-but earnt survival, but Brighton were fully up for the contest and went for the win right from the starting whistle, exploiting the wings where Matteo Darmian and Ashley Young were looking shaky.
Bruno, in particular, was enjoying bombing down the right side of the pitch, beating Young on almost every occasion – Chris Hughton’s game plan was clearly centred by striker Glenn Murray.
And it was Murray who had the first real chance of the game. He turned his man on the edge of the penalty area and fired a strike the looked goal-bound, but as he has done so many times this season, United goalkeeper David de Gea pulled off a fantastic save to deny the Brighton forward from breaking the deadlock.
The no. 1 was forced into another crucial save after 28 minutes when tricky winger José Izquierdo found his way through on goal and with plenty of space on the edge of the area.
However, his ranged curling effort was tipped over by the four-time ‘Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year’ to deny Brighton a goal in the first half.
Brighton were craving the points they needed to confirm their stay in the Premier League, but just like José Mourinho sides do, Manchester United were making it incredibly difficult for the hosts to break them down. That was until Pascal Gross got the winner they dreamed of.
A rapid break down the left wing spearheaded by Izquierdo resulted in the Colombian whipping the ball into a crowded penalty area and Gross managed to poke it goalwards, but his shot was heroically cannoned away from goal from the returning Marcos Rojo.
However, the Argentine didn’t get there quick enough as the referee’s watch went off alerting the official that the midfielder’s shot had crossed the line, and Brighton were awarded a deserved lead through goal-line technology.
United simply looked disinterested throughout and even going a goal down didn’t prompt quicker play on the ball and a higher tempo off it. A lazy performance by players who might be on the market in the summer.
The Red Devils were pushing for a late equaliser though. Paul Pogba saw his long-range effort fly just over and Marcus Rashford saw a late shot saved well by Mat Ryan, before Jesse Lingard fired wide when through one-on-one.
The lacklustre creativity and attacking threat ultimately resulted in the full-time whistle going at 1-0 and Brighton sealing their Premier League status, while also confirming Manchester United had lost to all three promoted sides this season for the first time ever.