Erik ten Hag’s Premier League debut was far from a dream as Pascal Gross’ first-half brace led Brighton and Hove Albion past the Dutchman’s Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday.
United’s back line and midfield struggled mightily in a brutal first half and Cristiano Ronaldo was brought off the bench at halftime to spur a comeback that only saw an Alexis Mac Allister own goal hit the scoreboard as the Portuguese wantaway only registered 12 touches.
Man United has 63 percent of the ball but just two more attempts than Brighton, out-shooting the Seagulls 17-15. The Red Devils couldn’t do anything with six corner kicks, but credit Brighton keeper Robert Sanchez for five saves in the clean sheet effort.
Ten Hag’s men ran out of gas late and there were certainly some boos raining down from Old Trafford following a 2-1 setback.
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What we learned from Manchester United vs Brighton
Brighton understands Graham Potter’s system
While Manchester United still has plenty of learning to do under Ten Hag, Sunday’s visitors have a keen understanding of what Graham Potter expects from them.
Brighton is well-spaced and was lethal on the counter, even if United did very little to limit the danger provided by the Seagulls.
It’s not all doom and gloom for United, who will know it needs to find ways to get the ball to its attackers as Jadon Sancho and Bruno Fernandes were lively going forward.
So, too, was Marcus Rashford, but the Englishman is still working to find his finishing touch and might’ve had a brace on another day.
HUGE save by Robert Sanchez!
He denies Rashford from point-blank range. Brighton lead Manchester United 2-0.
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) August 7, 2022
It was just too easy for Brighton in the first half. The Seagulls breezed through United’s midfield, aided by giveaways from Fred and Scott McTominay.
Harry Maguire and Diogo Dalot were also poor, with Lisandro Martinez and Luke Shaw not too far behind their back four peers.
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Brighton, it’s worth noting, was more than comfortable whether in possession or breaking against the play. Moises Caicedo was all over the midfield
Yet, again, look how easy this is for Brighton. Raphael Varane and Tyrell Malacia will know their time is coming soon.
Stars of the show
Pascal Gross: Two goals and he almost looked sheepish in celebration of some easy work.
Danny Welbeck: Ran through and past his old mates, just couldn’t finish.
Moises Caicedo: So energetic and a star in every part of the pitch.
Christian Eriksen: Starved of the ball early but bright when on it.
Jadon Sancho: Found himself in dangerous positions, and his two key passes joined Eriksen’s three and Bruno Fernandes’ two in showing United had danger in its boots.
Manchester United is off to Brentford for a 12:30pm ET Saturday matchup with the Bees, while Brighton will host Newcastle United for a 10am ET Saturday home opener.