- Bruno Fernandes’ penalty with the last kick wins it for United
- Neal Maupay puts Seagulls in front with his third goal of the season and second penalty
- Albion penalty awarded then disallowed before March equalises in stoppage time
- Ref blows final whistle – then awards United spot-kick for handball against Maupay
Albion somehow went unrewarded for an outstanding performance in a 3-2 defeat to Manchester United after a breathless finish at the Amex.
Solly March’s first goal since 2018 in the sixth minute of stoppage time appeared to have earned the Seagulls a deserved reward, but there was one more twist. Referee Chris Kavanagh, having already blown the final whistle, awarded United a penalty for handball against Neal Maupay after a VAR check and Bruno Fernandes scored from the spot in what was the tenth minute of added time.
Maupay’s third goal of the season – and his second success from the penalty spot – gave them a deserved lead, but Harry Maguire levelled before the break and Marcus Rashford put United in front ten minutes into the second half.
That hardly told the story of a game the Seagulls dominated for long spells. They were denied by the crossbar or post on five occasions – a new but perhaps unwanted Premier League record – with Leandro Trossard frustrated three times himself.
Albion also had a second penalty awarded then disallowed after Kavanagh reviewed his decision. There were other chances as well in a great performance which somehow went unrewarded.
Albion took control early on and gave United a warning as early as the ninth minute. Trossard and March combined on the left to create space for the Belgian to hit a shot from about 20 yards which beat David De Gea but came back off the corner of post and bar.
Trossard threatened again in the 21st minute. Steven Alzate’s clever pass gave him space to whip a low drive that struck the base of the right-hand post. The home side were controlling possession at that stage and incredibly were denied for the third time by the goal frame in the 29th minute when Adam Webster’s looping header had to be flicked onto the bar by De Gea at full stretch.
Mason Greenwood had a goal disallowed for offside but it was a rare moment of alarm for Albion, whose dominance finally got its reward in the 38th minute when Bruno Fernandes, who had already been booked for a foul on Maupay, brought down Tariq Lamptey in the box and Maupay was coolness personified from the spot, floating a perfect Panenka penalty past the United goalkeeper.
Unfortunately, Albion couldn’t hold on until half-time. Trossard gave away a free kick on the left-hand side of the box, which Fernandes whipped towards the far post where Nemanja Matic turned it into the path of Maguire who steered it low past a helpless Maty Ryan, although the final touch came off Lewis Dunk.
Albion were awarded a second penalty in the 47th minute when Paul Pogba pushed Aaron Connolly over in the box. Kavanagh was asked to review the decision on the pitch-side monitor and gave a free kick to United instead.
Marcus Rashford was offside when he found the net five minutes later but the England striker wasn’t to be denied, putting his side in front after 55 minutes. Fernandes played a great ball into the inside left channel and Rashford cut inside before firing powerfully past Ryan with his left foot, the ball going in off the unfortunate Dunk.
Thereafter it was all Albion. On the hour another good move ended with Maupay finding March who drilled a low shot past De Gea which hit the inside of the post. Maupay then forced a smart save out of De Gea before Potter introduced Pascal Gross and Alireza Jahanbakhsh with 17 minutes to go.
Astonishingly, the woodwork denied Albion for a fifth time in the 76th minute. Maupay, Lamptey and Jahanbakhsh combined to open up United and present Trossard with a chance which he blasted past De Gea – but against the crossbar. Perhaps then Graham Potter must have realised it wasn’t going to be his side’s day, a view that would have been reinforced in stoppage time when Trossard turned inside the six-yard box only to be denied by a brilliant reflex stop from De Gea.
But the drama was not over. Deep into stoppage time March stooped at the far post to head home after Webster had flicked the ball on from Jahanbakhsh’s cross but there was one final twist.
Maupay was adjudged to have handled Maguire’s header in the box and, after another monitor check, referee Kavanagh pointed to the spot and Fernandes drove the last kick of the game into the roof of the net. Harsh indeed on Albion.
Tariq Lamptey has been grabbing the headlines for his barnstorming performances on the right but, in a more understated way perhaps, March is making just as big an impact on Albion’s left. As well as his offensive qualities and set-piece he was always willing to do the hard yards and track back and the move which led to the penalty started when he won the ball back off Aaron Wan-Bissaka. He also hit the post in the second half before finally getting his reward.
Albion won just two penalties in the Premier League last season. By half-time in game three one player – the mercurial Lamptey – had earned them just as many on his own.
How’s your luck…
Since statistics were collected in 2003, no Premier League team has ever hit the woodwork four times in a match so Albion’s achievement of doing it five times is likely to stand for some time.
Albion: Ryan; Lamptey, White, Dunk, Webster, March; Lallana (Gross 73), Alzate; Trossard; Connolly (Jahanbakhsh 73), Maupay.
Subs not used: Steele, Bernardo, Burn, Veltman, Molumby.
Referee: Chris Kavanagh.