Associated Press

PL Preview: Brighton v. Manchester United

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  • Brighton has only beaten Manchester United once – in 1982
  • Manchester United has not conceded a goal against Burnley since 1992
  • No team has conceded more goals from corners than Brighton this season (14)

A rare Friday matchup sees Manchester United head to Brighton & Hove Albion looking to do its part to secure second place in the Premier League table with victory over the Seagulls at Falmer Stadium.

Up five points on third-placed Liverpool, a win on Friday plus a Liverpool draw or loss to Chelsea on Sunday at Stamford Bridge would guarantee nobody could pass the Red Devils and would lock them in to second place with two matches remaining. A win or draw would also guarantee a place in next year’s Champions League group stage no matter the outside results.

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The Red Devils can also avoid the first triple away defeat to newly promoted sides in club history. With defeats at both Newcastle United and Huddersfield, Manchester United will aim to prevent a third at Brighton to complete the dubious sweep.

Brighton, meanwhile, can secure Premier League safety with a win over Jose Mourinho and company, as they currently rest in 14th position, five points above Southampton in the first danger spot. A draw also put them in prime position to stay up, although it would not mathematically assure their Premier League status, leaving the only possibility of relegation to goal differential.

On the injury front, Manchester United will be without Romelu Lukaku who picked up an ankle injury against Arsenal last time out, but Phil Jones is back, while Eric Bailly is not carrying an injury, Mourinho confirmed. For Brighton, Davy Propper returns from his three-match suspension, while Steve Sidwell remains the only injury absentee for the Seagulls as he continues to recover from an ankle injury.

What they’re saying

Brighton manager Chris Hughton on Manchester United as a club: “When you are playing against Manchester United they still have the quality that Manchester United teams have always had. They were very consistent at winning the league. Perhaps they are not that at the moment, but they are still winning things and there is still this massive aura about playing a Manchester United team.”

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho on the job Hughton has done at Brighton: “Very, very good, to go from very, very good to amazing he just needs to mathematically confirm the Premier League for next season. I think Brighton will be there next year and that’s a fantastic job for Chris and not surprising for me because since the start they have showed the quality and mentality to get the points they need to stay in the division.”

Prediction

Manchester United have little to play for, but they’ve still managed to crank out results as the season comes to a close. However, matches against teams fighting against relegation are a completely different animal. While it would be a shock if Brighton were to collapse into a relegation spot, it’s still possible with three matches remaining, and their players will know that. A 1-1 draw would seem reasonable here, as Manchester United will miss Lukaku and could be held in a scrappy away battle.

Ben Yedder brace sends Man Utd packing

AP Photo/Dave Thompson
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  • Sevilla out-attempts Man Utd 20-15
  • First leg finished 0-0
  • Ben Yedder with two off the bench
  • Lukaku scores late consolation

Wissam Ben Yedder scored two goals in four second half minutes to knock Manchester United out of the UEFA Champions League as Sevilla posted a 2-1 win at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

Romelu Lukaku scored off a corner kick in the 84th minute, but United found no more as Jose Mourinho’s decision to deploy Juan Mata, Paul Pogba, and Anthony Martial as subs could not save the day.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Lukaku started an exchange with Lingard but side-footed the business end high and wide of the goal.

Sergio Rico was on hand to make his first save on Sevilla, and David De Gea was denied a chance to do the same with Luis Muriel skied over the goal.

Fellaini, a target for several crosses and knockdowns, then worked a 1-2 with Alexis Sanchez which concluded with a Rico save.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Sevilla entered the second half knowing a single goal would do the trick at either 1-0 or 1-1.

Eric Bailly made an outstanding sliding tackle in the box on Joaquin Correa in the 48th minute.

At the other end, Rico got low to get a hand on a Lingard attempt. Sanchez had an attempt blocked, and Fellaini sailed one away from the goal.

Paul Pogba was introduced after the hour mark.

Rashford won a free kick from 19 yards in the 67th minute, but mailed it over the goal.

But it was Sevilla who’d score via a counter attack, with Ben Yedder freezing Bailly with a feint before beating De Gea to the near post.

That moved Juan Mata and Anthony Martial into the fray for Jesse Lingard and Antonio Valencia.

It had the opposite effect in an immediate way, with the fourth official signaling that Ben Yedder’s header was pushed off his own post and into the goal by De Gea.

Chris Smalling missed a back post tap-in moments later for Manchester United. Lukaku couldn’t convert in-tight off a Mata feed in the 82nd.

Lukaku did finish a chance off a corner kick in the 84th minute, rewarded for a physical night’s work but leaving United with six minutes plus stoppage time to score two more goals.

United was denied shouts for an indirect kick inside the six when a blocked Martial shot was seemingly passed back to Rico to collect with his hands. Rashford headed just wide in the 87th minute.

De Gea denied Ben Yedder his hat trick in stoppage time.

PL roundup: Man Utd best Liverpool; Newcastle safe?

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Get caught up on all seven Premier League fixtures from Saturday…

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Manchester United 2-1 LiverpoolFULL RECAP

It wasn’t pretty — is it ever with Jose Mourinho? — but Man United rode a pair of early Marcus Rashford goals to all three points and reclamation of the steering wheel in the race for second place. Rashford scored after 14 and 24 minutes, at which point United gladly handed over the vast majority of possession (Liverpool finished with 68 percent, at Old Trafford), but the Red Devils held firm outside of Eric Bailly‘s own goal in the 66th minute. With eight games still to play, United lead Liverpool by five points (Tottenham Hotspur could get back to within four with a win on Sunday).

Chelsea 2-1 Crystal PalaceFULL RECAP

Antonio Conte‘s Chelsea snapped a two-game losing skid with a narrow home victory over Crystal Palace, courtesy of a slow roller from Willian and a Martin Kelly own goal inside the first 32 minutes at Stamford Bridge. Patrick Van Aanholt brought the visitors back to 2-1 in the 90th minute, the Blues held on to win for just the second time in six PL outings. They trail Tottenham by two points, having already played one more game than Spurs.

West Ham United 0-3 BurnleyFULL RECAP

West Ham’s season has gone from bad, to worse, to this has to be the worst it can get, right? Saturday’s 3-0 home defeat to seventh-place Burnley saw the London Stadium devolve into a set of truly ugly scenes, as fan violence and protests became the main storyline. Chris Wood scored twice in the second half, to go with another goal from Ashley Barnes, all in the span of 15 second-half minutes.

Newcastle United 3-0 SouthamptonFULL RECAP

Back in August — and September, and October, and probably November, too — Newcastle United seemed a surefire lock for relegation from the PL. Fast-forward to early March, and Rafa Benitez has somehow — masterfully — managed to guide the Magpies to 13th place in the league table, a full five points clear of 18th place. Southampton, on the other hand, are just one place and one point clear of the drop zone after a brace from Kenedy and a third from Matt Ritchie dropped Saints to four games without a win on Saturday.

West Bromwich Albion 1-4 Leicester CityFULL RECAP

West Brom aren’t likely to realize the same rescue from relegation that Newcastle have enjoyed, as Alan Pardew‘s side currently sits bottom of the league, eight points away from safety, after another humiliating defeat at home, this time to eighth-place Leicester. Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez, Kelechi Iheanacho and Vicente Iborra got the goals after Salomon Rondon had put the Baggies 1-0 up after eight minutes.

Everton 2-0 Brighton & Hove AlbionFULL RECAP

Speaking of sides who managed to rebound after a torrid start to the season, Everton have reclaimed their (apparent) birthright as a top-half side following Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Brighton. Gaetan Bong put the Seagulls behind with an own goal on the hour mark, followed by an insurance goal for the Toffees courtesy of Cenk Tosun.

Huddersfield Town 0-0 Swansea CityFULL RECAP

15th-place Huddersfield and 14th-place Swansea played to perhaps the most lopsided 0-0 draw in the history of soccer after Jordan Ayew was sent off in the 11th minute.

Sunday’s PL schedule

Arsenal vs. Watford — 9:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com
Bournemouth vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 12 p.m. ET, on NBCSports.com

Monday’s PL schedule

Stoke City vs. Manchester City — 4 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Mourinho slams United’s fans over McTominay treatment

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MANCHESTER — Jose Mourinho hailed Manchester United’s “perfect result” against Liverpool as his team won 2-1 at Old Trafford on Saturday to cement their spot in second place in the Premier League table and give themselves a five-point lead over their fierce rivals.

Although he said he “wouldn’t go as far” to call the performance perfect as United’s 2-0 half time lead, via two Marcus Rashford strikes, was halved by an own goal by Eric Bailly and came under threat from late Liverpool pressure, Mourinho was fairly happy with a characteristically dogged display from his side.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

However, he wasn’t happy with United’s supporters.

In the second half they loudly criticized academy graduate Scott McTominay who kept possession rather than going forward to give his team a breather with a veteran move. Mourinho applauded on the sidelines at the time, then hit out at United’s supporters over the way they treated the young midfielder.

Asked by reporters if he was unhappy with fans booing his decision to take off Rashford who was on a hat trick, Mourinho instead rounded on them for their loud criticism of McTominay.

“I am not upset at all with that reaction. I am upset with a reaction they had with Scott McTominay. A kid, 20 years old, was making all the right decisions and they want him to make the wrong decisions,” Mournho said. “When a kid decides to break the intensity of the game, not to lose, keep possession and play a back pass to give a solution and keep the ball in the opponents in the other half. It was a wonderful solution that many top players with experience, they don’t do it. The kid did it and the fans reacted against the kid. That, for me, was the bad one. To react against me and my decisions, that’s not a problem.”

It was another fine display from McTominay in the engine room alongside Nemanja Matic as United barely missed Paul Pogba who missed out through injury after getting injured late in training on Friday.

Mourinho was generally positive about the Old Trafford atmosphere, but he still isn’t happy with some of United’s fans and made his feelings very clear.

Didn’t like Man Utd’s style? Mourinho doesn’t care

AP Photo/Rui Vieira
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Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho knows his rivals Liverpool had the better second half, but his men won 2-1 and he doesn’t care what anyone says about the performance.

  1. He probably does care
  2. He doth protest too much
  3. It doesn’t matter; He outfoxed a fellow master

[ RECAP: Man Utd 2-1 Liverpool ]

There was a bit of Jedi master vs. Jedi master (Galactic Empire vs. Galactic Empire?) here, but Mourinho’s men went ahead on a pair of David De Gea long balls won (eventually) to Marcus Rashford by Romelu Lukaku (The second took a pitstop with Juan Mata).

Parentheses.

But the Red Devils were indeed in control of the match until the final few minutes of desperate defending. Even an Eric Bailly own goal didn’t change much but the score line at Old Trafford.

Here’s Mou:

“Against Liverpool if you play bad when you have the ball you can be in trouble. In the second half it was not our intention – I cannot say this was the plan. Liverpool pushed us into defensive situation but we kept control. It was a complete performance by us with two different halves.

“If people don’t think we deserved it, I don’t care. I am a bit tired, we have a match on Tuesday. I don’t care what people say. The boys are happy, I’m happy.”

He cares (of course he does). It really doesn’t matter. Mourinho got his tactics right against one of the two most dangerous teams in the Premier League, and his men fought hard for the game plan. That’s what matters to the PL Top Four race, one which Unite