Match Reports

De Zerbi's reign ends in defeat to Manchester United

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Albion beaten by 2-0 by second-half goals from Dalot and Hojlund.

By Bruce Talbot • 19 May 2024

By Paul Hazlewood
Jakub Moder impressed in an unfamiliar right-back role.

Roberto De Zerbi’s final game as Albion boss ended in defeat after second-half goals from Diogo Dalot and Rasmus Hojlund earned Manchester United their first win in five attempts against the Seagulls.

Albion did their best to give the Italian a winning send-off, but his side missed some great chances in a dominant first-half display while Joao Pedro saw an effort early in the second period cleared off the line by Casemiro.

By Paul Hazlewood
Joao Pedro was denied by Casemiro's goalline clearance in the second half.

Albion lost impetus when they went behind and with Crystal Palace hammering Aston Villa it meant Albion dropped to a final position of 11th in the Premier League.

Albion fans gave De Zerbi a rousing ovation a few minutes after kick off and his side tore into United for much of the first half.

With a bit more luck Adam Webster might have had a hat-trick before the break. After just five minutes he met Pascal Gross’s corner with a looping header over.

By Paul Hazlewood
Adam Webster had three first-half efforts but couldn't find the target.

Another header midway through the half, this time from Valentin Barco’s cross, was a yard wide and he went even closer with a firm header from Barco’s corner which Lisandro Martinez cleared off the line.

There were other opportunities but Albion’s cutting edge was missing. Carlos Baleba made a brilliant break from the centre circle before finding Barco who cut inside and saw his shot blocked by Onana’s left leg.

By Paul Hazlewood
Adam Lallana made his final appearance for Albion and nearly marked it with a goal.

Joao Pedro was also denied by the United keeper before the Brazilian dragged a shot just wide after a lovely lay-off by Adam Lallana, on his final Albion appearance.

United seldom threatened before the break, although Scott McTominay should have done better when Bruno Fernandes broke and set up the Scot but he blazed over the target before Jason Steele blocked an effort from Alejandro Garnacho.

Albion picked up the tempo again at the start of the second half and they went closest to scoring on 50 minutes when Casemiro blocked Joao’s shot after great work by Moder, who was a revelation at right-back. Lallana followed up but his shot hit Joao and went wide and moments later Lallana’s Albion career was over when he came off to a standing ovation before giving De Zerbi a hug on the touchline.

By Paul Hazlewood
Simon Adingra puts Lisandro Martinez under pressure.

As the second half wore on Albion seemed to run out of steam and with 16 minutes to go United went ahead with their first shot on target. A long ball forward caught out Igor who inadvertently flicked it into the path of Diogo Dalot, whose crisp right-foot finish flew past Steele.

Three minutes from time United added a second when substitute Hojlund picked his way through some tired challenges before firing hard and low past Steele.

By Paul Hazlewood
Pascal Gross leaps to get in a header.

Most of the fans stayed at the end to give De Zerbi and the players a standing ovation. The season may have ended in anti-climax but it has been memorable in so many ways.

Albion: Steele, Moder, Webster, Igor, Barco (Lallana 81), Gross, Baleba (Gilmour 81), Adingra (Fati 81), Lallana (Enciso 57), Joao, Welbeck.

Subs not used: Verbruggen, Buonanotte, Offiah, Peupion, Baker-Boaitey.

Attendance: 31662

Referee: Craig Pawson

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