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Bruno Fernandes’s shot flicks off Alexis Mac Allister for United’s second goal at the Amex last night
It says a lot when a team can concede possibly the killer goal in such circumstances and still have no complaints about defeat.
Albion went down 3-0 at home to a Manchester United side led by two-goal Bruno Fernandes last night.
United were very good at both ends of the park and wrapped up the scoring with a high-speed counter attack which seemed to come from another, more conquering, era.
It could have been Scholes to Giggs to Cole rather than Matic to Greenwood to Fernandes as they broke away to make it 3-0 early in the second half.
That goal, converted on the volley by Fernandes, was seen by many as the killer blow.
Certainly by Graham Potter, the head coach who had made two substitutions at half-time and had seen his side start the second period brightly.
But, if you are being less generous to the Seagulls and felt the second goal on the half-hour left them with too much to do, then it was a curious one to concede.
Mason Greenwood did well to almost keep the ball in play but it seemed on replays to have gone out of play in front of the East Stand.
As the move continued and was switched to the United left, Luke Shaw got the benefit of a very tight VAR offside call – the type we have seen go against attacking sides this season – as he got in behind a lax Davy Propper.
And Fernandes’ shot flicked almost at source off Alexis Mac Allister’s attempt to block before spinning past Maty Ryan.
A cruel way to concede but, at 2-0, not a cruel half-time deficit and not a cruel game to lose.
Albion were second best until it was too late and, while it would have been nice to have seen them more pro-active in the first half, there was no shame in defeat.
They changed their set-up, with Tariq Lamptey ahead of Martin Montoya on the right and Aaron Connolly looking to get in behind as he led the attack.
It did not work, be it because the tactics were not right or United were just too good.
“It’s hard to play against Manchester United in this moment of form and we tried to use Aaron and Tariq to stretch their back four.
“We probably didn’t do well enough with the ball to maintain attacks for long enough.
“Or when we did we just missed that final pass to really affect them.
“They keep the ball well and they ha e some good width, great movement in their forward positions.
As he has before, Leandro Trossard came off the bench and made his case to start.
Or maybe he stated his case to make an impact as sub again. He certainly freshened things up.
The Belgian flashed shots narrowly wide of either post and was involved in attacks which saw David De Gea save well from Connolly and later Neal Maupay, who also made his entrance at half-time.
They were probably the most instrumental players as United established their position of strength.
Albion had a bit of early luck when Fernandes hit the post from Pogba’s pass.
They should have done more to stop Greenwood’s run cutting in from the right before he surprisingly beat Ryan at his near post.
Fernandes’ deflected effort made it 2-0 but he saved his best until early in the second half.
Albion still had men forward from a free-kick when Yves Bissouma lofted the ball back in towards the twin towers of Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy at the edge of the box.
Harry Maguire beat both of them in the air and his header was controlled by Nemanja Matic, who then volleyed an exquisite angled through ball towards Greenwood on the left.
Marcus Rashford made tracks down the middle, creating space, and Greenwood’s cross to the far post was met by a volley from Fernandes which told just how confident he is right now.
Albion’s own self belief will have been massaged by the way they played for the rest of the match.
No complaints – and morale largely intact before, with all respect to the two Manchester clubs and Liverpool, the really big one at Norwich on Saturday.
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World news – GB – Albion know they can have no complaints – despite that second goal