Bruno Fernandes, man of the match and one-man revolution, talks down the impact of his relationship with Paul Pogba in midfield. “It’s not fair to talk about me and Paul. We are a team,” he says. “We train together. They push me to play better. I think in the end it’s teamwork.”
David Hytner’s match report has landed:
With Bruno Fernandes providing an irresistible spark, the sense of possibility felt tantalising for Manchester United. Brighton are not a team that have been rolled over too many times this season, despite their lowly position, but the ease and panache with which United recorded their latest positive result represented a statement of intent.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær had said on Monday that his team could go undefeated for the remainder of the season. Play like this and they will. The run-in is relatively kind for them and this was a 15th game in all competitions without a loss – the best sequence under Solskjær.
The victory was ignited by Mason Greenwood’s 13th goal of a stellar season but, really, it was all about Fernandes. He was playing only his 13th game for the club and yet it feels as though he has been here for a professional lifetime.
Much more here:
Final score: Brighton 0-3 Manchester United
90+4 mins: An extremely competent away performance, and an emphatically outclassed home side.
90+3 mins: Ighalo has only touched the ball three times. Martial only had 23 touches, half as many as any other outfield starter. Sure, Martial’s runs helped create space for his teammates, but United’s centre-forwards have been almost entirely peripheral.
90+1 mins: There’ll be three minutes of stoppage time, give or take.
89 mins: Gary Neville follows through on his promise to name Bruno Fernandes his man of the match. The game has been markedly less fun since he left the field.
87 mins: Solly March replaces Connolly, Brighton’s final change of the evening.
86 mins: James threatens to get clear, doesn’t quite manage to do so, has a shot anyway and Ryan saves. Then about 45 seconds later he gets the ball on the left, comes infield, doesn’t have much on, has a shot anyway and Ryan saves.
84 mins: Save! James crosses towards Ighalo; Bernardo gets in the way but only turns the ball towards McTominay, and his low shot takes a slight deflection on its way goalwards, but Ryan deals with it.
81 mins: Further substitutional news, as Brighton bring on Mooy and Bernardo, and take off Dunk and Mac Allister.
80 mins: Wan-Bissaka hits a cross straight into a fragile part of Bissouma, who spends a minute or two writhing about in agony and then has to get up and defend a corner.
78 mins: United bring on Ighalo and James, and take off Rashford and Martial.
76 mins: Another De Gea save! Maupay tries to play in Trossard but Maguire gets in the way. The ball rebounds back to him, and his shot takes a deflection, but De Gea has enough time to react and push it away.
74 mins: The game appears to have entered the period when one team no longer believes they can achieve anything and the other no longer believes they need to.
71 mins: Trossard has another pop, this time from 20-odd yards, but the ball spins wide of the left-hand post. He has had as many shots as every other Brighton player put together, and he only came on at half-time.
69 mins: Brighton have a shot on target! It’s a really good one too, Connolly taking Trossard’s pass, enjoying a bit too much space, and curling a shot towards the top corner. De Gea throws out a hand and turns it behind.
67 mins: The game’s second drinks break, and TV viewers get treated to a few more replays of United’s third goal, their best of the night, and really lovely in every way.
66 mins: Chance! Wan-Bissaka gets to the byline and dinks in a cross, and Williams heads it powerfully, but straight into Duffy.
64 mins: United take Bruno Fernandes off, to be wrapped in proverbial cotton wool. “Unless something miraculous happens in this last half an hour he will be the man of the match,” says Gary Neville. Paul Pogba and Luke Shaw also come off, with McTominay, Pereira and Williams coming on.
62 mins: Now Mac Allister lifts the ball into the area from the right, and Trossard slams a volley high. They have had as many shots in the last 150 seconds as in the preceding hour.
60 mins: Brighton nearly score! Well, they nearly have a shot on target, at least. Mac Allister takes a free-kick from deep, and disguises his pass to Trossard, who with every red shirt convinced the ball is going to he lofted into the middle of the box suddenly has the entire left third of the penalty area to himself and the ball at his feet. He shoots low and hard across goal, but wide of the far post.
57 mins: Duffy nips in front of Martial to take the ball off his toes, and the Frenchman’s head goes back in a display of frustration. His movement has been good tonight, but he hasn’t actually seen very much of the ball.
54 mins: Burn’s excellent low cross from the left just evades Connolly. Brighton still haven’t had a shot on target, and Ryan still hasn’t made a save.
50 mins: Maguire heads the ball out from his area to Matic, who chests down and volleys a pass to Greenwood, bursting down the left. He sprints to the edge of the area, Rashford and Martial make runs in the middle to occupy the defence, and Greenwood lifts the ball beyond them to the unmarked Fernandes, who volleys in. That was clinical, and excellent at every stage: header, control, pass, run, cross, finish.
GOAL! Brighton 0-3 Manchester United (Fernandes, 50 mins)
That’s a lovely break, and it’s game over!
48 mins: Brighton already seem to have significantly improved in their new-look 4-2-2-2 formation. Shaw brings down Bissouma, and gets booked.
46 mins: Peeeeep! They’re off! I have a couple of half-time substitutions to report: Brighton have brought off Tariq Lamptey and Davy Propper and brought on Leandro Trossard and Neal Maupay.
This game has been slightly tediously one-sided. This, though, is the kind of tedium that Manchester United fans have been desperate for for several years now. They look a team capable not just of qualifying for Europe but achieving something once they get there. Brighton have Liverpool and Manchester City still to come to the AmEx over the next couple of weeks, and could probably do with banking three points at Norwich this weekend before their confidence gets too badly nobbled.
Half time: Brighton 0-2 Manchester United
45+3 mins: Manchester United go into the interval with the double advantage of two goals and complete superiority.
45+2 mins: United ping the ball about on the left for an age, and eventually Montoya’s had enough and throws himself at Rashford. Free kick.
45+1 mins: There will be about two minutes of first-half stoppages.
44 mins: Brighton actually threaten! Propper’s cross from the right is pretty handy, and there are six home players in the penalty area, but the ball just evades them all, with Burn coming closest.
44 mins: United get numbers forward, Brighton get numbers back, and a very promising attack ends with Dunk intercepting Pogba’s underhit pass infield.