5 talking points as Mourinho left furious by Man United’s defeat at Brighton
Brighton stunned Manchester United to seal survival and leave Jose Mourinho’s men with work to do to clinch second.
Mourinho would not have enjoyed being beside the seaside after seeing Pascal Gross’s earn Brighton a famous win at the Amex.
The German’s second-half header saw Brighton reach the magical 40-point mark in style and leave their fans chanting ‘we are staying up.’
Third-bottom Southampton would now have to win all three of their remaining games to catch Chris Hughton’s side.
But United still need four more points from their final two games to guarantee finishing in the runners up spot.
Mourinho made six changes to his side as he rested some of his stars including Alexis Sanchez with one eye on the FA Cup final against Chelsea in two weeks’ time.
He was also missing Romelu Lukaku due to an ankle injury.
And he was indebted to one of his mainstays, player of the season David De Gea, for initially keeping Brighton at bay.
Mourinho joked the Spaniard was United’s worst player in training during their midweek awards bash.
But he once again produced the goods when it really mattered to frustrate Brighton in the first half.
He pulled off a stunning flying save to his right to tip away Glenn Murray’s volley before also denying Jose Izquierdo and Gross.
But De Gea could do nothing to stop Brighton going ahead just before the hour.
Izquierdo skinned Matteo Darmian down the left and Gross stormed in to climb above Ashley Young and power home the Colombian’s cross in the 57th minute.
Marcos Rojo tried to hack the ball clear but the ball had crossed the line before he was able to intervene and goal decision system confirmed the ball had crossed the line.
Here are five talking points from the clash…
1) Second clinched? Well…not quite
Manchester United’s wait to secure second goes on.
They could have virtually assured it with a win against Brighton allowing Jose Mourinho to rest some of his big names ahead of the cup final.
He tried that last night by giving the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Antonio Valencia the night off while Romelu Lukaku missed out injured.
But they still have work to do and Liverpool and Tottenham can still catch them which could be bad news for West Ham on Thursday.
2) Safety secured for Brighton
A point may have done it – not mathematically, though all but.
But what a way to clinch survival and reach the magical 40 point mark, with just their second league win over Manchester United, the last coming in 1982.
Brighton’s run in was among the more daunting of the sides in relegation danger but this three points along with one picked up against Tottenham means they can go into their last two games against Manchester City and Liverpool with the pressure off.
3) Rashford and Martial fluff their big chances
Romelu Lukaku’s back-ups don’t get too many chances to impress such has been the Belgians impressive fitness record and Jose Mourinho’s reluctance to rest him.
Marcus Rashford was handed a big chance due to Lukaku’s ankle injury but he failed to really grab it.
You couldn’t fault his effort – he pressed, ran the channels and put himself about like someone determined to impress.
But in key moments – like when Lewis Dunk’s slip gifted him the ball in a promising position – he made the wrong decision and the chance went away to incur the wrath of and earn a death stare from Mourinho.
With such golden opportunities to impress through the middle rare if your name is not Romelu Lukaku those moments have to be turned into goals.
Anthony Martial was another player given a chance to stake his claim in the absence of the rested Alexis Sanchez but he too
4) De Gea’s one man save of the season competition
His goalkeeper winning the player-of-the-year award might not be what Jose Mourinho wants.
But when that goalkeeper is David De Gea and he is the best stopper in the world him collecting the honour is a little more understandable.
It is because of heroics like his flying save to tip behind Glenn Murray’s opportunistic first-half volley that De Gea is so important to Manchester United.
It was another one to add to his impressive collection from this campaign and he could easily have a save of the season competition on his own.
5) Returning hero Bobby ‘Hulk’ Zamora
Bobby Zamora was a popular returning visitor to the Amex last night.
The Seagulls’ legendary former striker snuck in the home dugout while the two teams warmed up.
But it wasn’t long before he was spotted, especially with Zamora looking like he’d been hitting the weights since hanging up his boots in 2016 after his second permanent spell at the club.
Retirement seems to have been treating Zamora well and his condition was clearly all his former teammates wanted to talk about as they greeted him.
And his secret to looking like he could easily still play? “I’ve just come back from holiday that’s why I’m looking alright,” Zamora joked.
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