Anthony Martial had two assists and Manchester United eased past Brighton and Hove Albion 3-1 on Sunday.
Influential midfielder Scott McTominay needed help to get off the pitch after a stoppage time injury.
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United moves seventh with 16 points, one back of fifth but nine behind fourth place Man City.
Brighton drops into 11th with its 15 points.
Three things we learned
1. Martial the maestro: We suspected that Martial’s absence from the United lineup was just as detrimental as Paul Pogba‘s, and the Frenchman has shown his worth. Another two assists today, including one of monster work on United’s goal to reestablish the two-goal advantage. Still just 23, Martial has five goals and three assists in 10 matches across all competitions. United went 1-2-2 in the league while he was out.
2. Red Devils go to the greasy places: Manchester United, for as long as its been a club of influence, was capable of the sublime individual or team goals, but this unit has to make sure it puts its nose into the grimy, seedy parts of the pitch. It did that to get its second goal, and was sure to play that way early. Yet they also rose to the occasion once Brighton was forced to open up, more than tripling the Seagulls shot output. Well done on the whole for a needed simple win.
3. Socceroo shining: Mathew Ryan is a fine Premier League goalkeeper, and we were reminded of that Sunday when the Australian was credited with nine saves in a match which could’ve looked much worse than 3-1.
Man of the Match: Martial.
Marcus Rashford put Mat Ryan into an early bit of work, though there wasn’t much danger in their fourth minute encounter.
United took the lead in the 17th minute, as Pereira lost the ball but saw it roll to Martial. The Frenchman cut it back, and Pereira’s shot took a wicked deflection to beat Ryan.
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Pereira stung a shot at Ryan in the 57th minute, the match really lacking luster.
United’s Brendan Williams was shown a yellow card for a kick to the chest of Steven Alzate.
Fred forced Ryan into a save after the hour mark, and Brighton just missed a bid to make it interesting when Neal Maupay couldn’t get a foot on a loose ball in the six.
Then Graham Potter‘s men got their pull back, with Dunk getting free from Pereira to nod a corner kick home.
But United restored the two-goal advantage through Rashford, who was set up by the wonderful work of Martial. A proper goal for the Red Devils’ third.
Rashford then missed an absolute sitter following a delightful set-up from Daniel James.