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MANCHESTER UNITED waltzed their way to a 3-0 victory over Brighton to close the gap between themselves and fourth placed Chelsea.
The win was a statement of intent to their top four rivals as a dominant performance started with Mason Greenwood getting on the scoresheet early in the first half.
However, it was Bruno Fernandes who stole the show as his goals either side of the break helped United to all three points.
The victory pushes United’s unbeaten streak to 15 in all competitions and closes the gap on Chelsea to just two points ahead of their game against West Ham tomorrow.
Despite probably catching a cold in the first half with the lack of action the Spaniard managed to salvage a clean sheet for United as he produced two terrific saves from Aaron Connolly and Neal Maupay late on.
Criticised for his lack of attacking output this season, Wan-Bissaka now has two assists in his three Premier League starts since the restart.
Brighton’s lack of threat on he wing meant he found himself being a right-winger rather than a fullback, and similarly to Sheffield United, the 22-year-old continued to sharpen his final third deliveries and decision making.
He thwarted the threat of Connolly and Maupay with ease and his run down the right flank was instrumental in providing the space for Greenwood’s opener.
An early mistake was quickly forgotten about as United’s dominance made it a fairly easy first-half, but Leandro Trossard’s introduction made the second a lot harder for the England international.
Allowed the attack in front of him as he sat back in the early exchanges before getting himself involved when he was confident Brighton posed no danger on the counter.
A needless foul early in the second-half saw him booked and Ole took no chances and substituted him for Brandon Williams in the 64th minute.
Questions were raised when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reintroduced the Serbian back into the United midfield after the restart, but Matic’s performances are continuing to prove why the club bought him from rivals Chelsea in 2017.
The 31-year-old stamped out Brighton’s attempted counter attacks on numerous occasions and showed he still has it when he carried out a sublime pass to start the move for Fernandes’ second.
His nature of taking a handful of snap shots throughout games usually gives him a chance of getting on the scoresheet, and the Portuguese international showed his intent early on when he hit the post from range.
Luck then proved to be on Fernandes’ side when he unleashed his second attempt on goal as it took a slight deflection on its way into the bottom corner.
However, there was no luck needed for his second of the evening as it was his desire to race the length of the field to finish off a well-constructed counter attack – amazing for a player who has played every minute of United’s restart before being substituted.
A constant headache for Brighton throughout, as while it was not his most dazzling performance the Frenchman is back playing football with a smile on his face and his performances are beginning to mirror his happiness.
After finding himself isolated on the right against Sheffield United last week, Greenwood drifted into a more central position and it instantly paid off.
His absence on the right flank allowed Wan-Bissaka to push forward and feed him inside, and in the 16th minute the the 18-year-old drove at Brighton’s defence before cutting inside and rasping a shot beyond Matt Ryan for the opener.
He went from goal scorer to provider in the second-half as it was his beautifully weighted cross which set up Fernandes for his third.
Still searching for his first goal since the restart as he still seems off the pace. All is forgiven considering he was out injured for three months prior to the restart.
The buzz of scoring his first senior hat trick against Sheffield United has proven to be a cornerstone in Martial’s United career. Despite not getting on the scoresheet this time out, he held the ball up when asked and linked up well with his teammates.
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World news – GB – Man Utd player ratings: Fernandes and Greenwood steal show in Brighton hammering