- Albion beaten 3-0 by Manchester United
- Greenwood and Fernandes with the goals on the south coast
- Seagulls rallied after the break
- Graham Potter's men next face Norwich City at Carrow Road on Saturday lunchtime
Albion suffered their second defeat in eight Premier League games against a slick Manchester United side at the Amex.
First-half goals from Marcus Greenwood and Bruno Fernandes put United in control and the game was effectively over when Fernandes made it 3-0 early in the second half following a brilliant counter-attack. It sealed their first win over Albion on Sussex soil for 38 years.
It was a tough night for the Seagulls but there was certainly a marked improvement in their second-half performance with Leo Trossard, twice, Aaron Connolly and Neal Maupay close to getting the consolation they deserved. Albion stay 15th and will now regroup ahead of Saturday’s trip to Norwich City.
Graham Potter had made three changes to the side that drew 0-0 at Leicester with Shane Duffy coming in for the injured Adam Webster (hamstring) in the heart of the defence.
There was a first start since the resumption for Martin Montoya with Davy Propper back in midfield.
United have motored impressively towards the Champions League places since the Premier League restart and they made the early running with Duffy producing a timely intervention in the third minute when Anthony Martial was about to line up a shot.
Albion responded through Dale Stephens who fired over from 25 yards after a decent move but it was the visitors who were on top. Fernandes clattered the base of Ryan’s left-hand post after being teed up by Paul Pogba in the 11th minute and five minutes later they were in front.
Greenwood displayed great footwork to leave Stephens in his wake as he cut in from the right before drilling a low left-foot shot through Maty Ryan’s legs.
A foul just outside the box by Yves Bissouma gave Fernandes the opportunity to test Ryan from a free kick but he bent it well over the top.
Martial then broke into the box from the left and Dunk, making his 300th appearance for the club, had to make a crucial tackle at the expense of a corner, which Harry Maguire headed over.
Albion needed the first drinks break to regroup but it made little difference as Fernandes doubled United’s lead on the half-hour.
Luke Shaw combined with Marcus Rashford on the left before the ball broke to Pogba who teed up his fellow midfielder for a low shot which took a deflection as it sped past the inside of Ryan’s left-hand post from the edge of the box.
Potter brought on Neal Maupay and Leandro Trossard at the break and switched to a 4-2-3-1 formation but Albion’s hopes of finding a way back ended with a brilliant counter-attacking goal in the 50th minute. Nemanja Matic’s cross-field ball sent Greenwood sprinting into space down the left.
Rashford’s decoy run created space for Fernandes, who met Greenwood’s cross with a thunderous volley which flashed past a helpless Ryan for a fabulous goal.
To their credit Albion showed tremendous spirit and enjoyed their best spell. Connolly was inches away from touching in Dan Burn’s cross before they created their best chance so far on the hour. Alexis Mac Allister’s clever free kick found Trossard in space and the Belgian flashed a low drive inches past the far post.
Albion went even closer in the 69th minute when David De Gea stuck out a strong right hand to turn Connolly’s curling shot, which was heading for the top right-hand corner, over the bar before Trossard drilled a low shot a yard wide. De Gea then showed his class again in the 76th minute when he saw Maupay’s shot late but managed to push it out with a strong right hand.
Aaron Mooy, Solly March and Bernardo came on for the last ten minutes with Dunk, who was on nine bookings and can now face Norwich, among those to make way.
Ryan prevented United from scoring a fourth when he kept out a powerful drive from substitute Scott McTominay and a four-goal winning margin would have been harsh on Albion, who were much improved after the break.
Albion: Ryan, Montoya, Dunk © (Bernardo 80), Duffy, Burn, Lamptey (Trossard 45), Bissouma, Stephens, Propper (Maupay 45), Mac Allister (Mooy 80), Connolly (March 87).
Subs not used: Button, Gross, Murray, Schelotto.
Referee: Andre Marriner.