Manchester United had a terrible start with a 2-1 defeat to Brighton in the Premier League opener. The Red Devils were beaten by Brighton in Erik Ten Hag’s first game in charge, which was a chastening reminder of the size of the job he has on his hands.
The Dutchman was brought to the club in the summer to begin a rebuild on the back of a slump that has seen them go five years in a trophy-drought and there is not going to have a quick solution.
Let’s take a look at the match highlights and Manchester United player ratings.
United were caught cold in a hugely disappointing opening 45 minutes and were nearly behind in the opening 15 seconds. Leandro Trossard pressured Diogo Dalot into giving up possession just outside the United 18-yard box, but after stealing the ball, the Belgian winger’s shot was straight into the side-netting.
Having averted early disaster, it looked like United were going to take control as they forged a great chance to score in the eighth minute.
Scott McTominay got in down the right and his blocked shot fell perfectly for Bruno Fernandes, but the Portuguese blazed his effort well over.
But from then Brighton asserted themselves, and they deservedly took the lead on the half-hour.
McTominay was robbed of possession by Moises Caicedo, who found Danny Welbeck’s clever run between the two centre-halves, and the ex-United striker picked out Gross at the far post, with the midfielder having an easy tap-in.
Things got worse for United nine minutes later as Brighton doubled their lead after they sliced through the Red Devils in just four passes.
Caicedo, Gross and Adam Lallana were all involved in getting the ball to Solly March, whose low shot was palmed by David de Gea straight into the path of Gross, who had carried on forward and gleefully accepted his second tap-in of the afternoon.
This half-chance brought to an end a lacklustre half from Manchester United, with Erik Ten Hag’s first forty-five minutes of Premier League football ending with his side trailing by two goals.
After a frustrating first-half, Ten Hag finally turned to the Portuguese star in the 53rd minute.
The Red Devils would almost reduce the deficit only four minutes after the restart with a low cross from Christian Eriksen just missing Marcus Rashford at the back-post.
In the 53rd minute, Cristiano Ronaldo were introduced to the match, replacing Fred. And only seven minutes after his emergence from the United bench, the Portuguese forward would beat the Seagull’s offside trap and whip a ball into the box for an unmarked Marcus Rashford, who failed to beat Robert Sanchez from close-range. The English wingers’ blushes were eventually spared by a raised offside flag.
On the 68th minute, Manchester United got themselves back when a dangerous corner from Bruno Fernandes was turned into the goal by Alexis Mac Allister.
It was not picturebook by any means as Sanchez flapped at Fernandes’ delivery, the ball landed on the back of Dalot. And it ended up in the back of the net via a combination of Sanchez and Mac Allister, who was credited with the own goal.
United pushed for a way back into the game, but could only create half-chances as Ronaldo and Lisandro Martinez had shots blocked, meaning a losing start in their first game of the 2022/23 season.
Manchester United Player Ratings
Manchester United player ratings from Manchester United’s 2-1 defeat to Brighton.
David de Gea
Could have better protected his area when he parried the ball to Pascal Gross, who tapped in to make it 2-0. 5
Gets an extra point for his involvement in the goal but was lax for most of the game. Took a shot in the second half but needs to be sharper. 5
Had audible backing from the matchgoers and started well but played Danny Welbeck onside to cross for Gross to make it 1-0. Carried the ball forward regularly. 6
Began impressively but then displayed careless passing and positioning. Booked and fortunate not to concede a penalty. 5
Fortunate to start ahead of Tyrell Malacia and was out of sync at both ends. Some of the box defending wasn’t the best today and Malacia will be eyeing that starting place. 4
Encapsulated United’s midfield malaise in a microcosm when he needed six touches in the final third, overran the ball and was carded. Fortunate to have lasted 77 minutes. 3
Brighton are one of the best high-pressing sides in the league. Might be capable of playing that holding role against sides that are less intense in their press but not against such opposition and the bigger teams. Sacrificed for Cristiano Ronaldo. 4
Missed a gilt-edged chance at 0-0 that was costly as Brighton capitalized up the other end. Not really aligned with Ten Hag’s approach, but corner forced the own goal. 4
Played some elegant passes, but his role as the center forward was a misguided experiment that backfired. Had some influence from a deeper role. 6
Like Dalot, failed to sustain his friendly form. Had plenty of the ball in the second-half yet did little of note with it. 5
Did not get going from the left wing and guilty of committing unforced errors. Failed to convert two glaring opportunities. 4
The subs didn’t really have much of an impact. Ronaldo gave a presence in the box, Van de Beek got some nice flicks, but they didn’t materialize into much. The three other subs came too late to have an impact with lots of stoppages in those final minutes.