- Albion are knocked out of the Emirates FA Cup
- Romelu Lukaku gives Manchester United the lead
- Jurgen Locadia comes close to an equaliser in the second half
- The Seagulls turn their attentions to Leicester City in the Premier League on 31st March
Brighton & Hove Albion’s Emirates FA Cup journey came to an end at the quarter-final stage after a 2-0 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Goals in each half from Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic were the difference between the two sides, but Albion more than held their own against their illustrious opponents on a bitterly cold and snowy evening in Manchester.
Chris Hughton made five changes to the side that lost to Everton a week ago, with Tim Krul, Markus Suttner, Solly March, Jurgen Locadia and Leonardo Ulloa all coming into the side.
Meanwhile, it was a memorable first inclusion in the squad for Max Sanders, who took his place on the bench after a string of impressive performances for the under-23 side.
United had the first clear-cut chance of the game through Lukaku, who fired wide at the near post from Antonio Valencia’s in-swinging cross.
Ezequiel Schelotto raced forward for Albion down the right flank and fired a cross straight into the box, which narrowly missed Ulloa and Locadia, who were waiting inside the box.
March then whipped an enticing ball towards the near post, which was cut out by Eric Bailly. The winger had a chance from the subsequent corner, but fired wide of the target.
Juan Mata had a brilliant chance to break the deadlock after linking up well with Anthony Martial and saw his shot deflected wide.
Jose Mourinho’s side came even closer to scoring moments later, as Chris Smalling hit the post from the resulting corner.
But Albion could’ve easily struck first themselves when Lewis Dunk leapt the highest inside the area to meet a Pascal Gross corner, but Sergio Romero was on hand to make a strong two-handed stop.
It was United that stuck first though through Lukaku, who headed in a pinpoint ball into the area by Matic to give Mourinho’s men the lead with 37 minutes played.
After a cagey start to the contest after the break, Pascal Gross beat Smalling to a loose ball on the edge of the box and saw his strike go just wide of Romero’s right-hand post.
The Seagulls continued their positive play when Ulloa teed up Locadia on the edge of the area, and the Dutchman forced Romero into a low save.
Albion’s club-record signing continued to look lively and after a swift turn, his resulting volley forced a fine stop from Romero.
Duffy came close with another set-piece, but Romero was on hand to claim the ball once again.
Locadia was involved in the thick of the action again, as he evaded Antonio Valencia to rise highest in the box from March’s searching cross, but his header sailed over the bar.
Hughton freshened up the flanks with the introduction of Jose Izquierdo for Solly March; the former almost had an immediate impact after taking advantage of space on the edge of the area, only to see his effort blocked.
Albion maintained their positive second-half display, as Gross picked out Beram Kayal in space, but the Israeli’s strike went high and wide of the target.
The game was effectively put to bed wth 83 minutes on the clock when Matic headed in Ashley Young's free kick at the far post, and the game finished 2-0.
ALBION: Krul; Schelotto, Dunk (C), Duffy, Suttner; March (Izquierdo 68), Kayal, Propper, Locadia; Gross; Ulloa (Murray 76).
SUBS NOT USED: Maenpaa (GK), Bruno, Goldson, Sanders, Baldock.
MAN UNITED: Romero; Valencia (C), Bailly, Smalling, Shaw (Young 46); Matic, McTominay, Mata (Rashford 74); Lingard (Fellaini 89), Martial, Lukaku.
SUBS NOT USED: De Gea (GK), Lindelof, Pogba, Sanchez.