As Manchester United fans we’ve enjoyed our fair share of dramatic games but Saturday’s 3-2 win over Brighton is up there with the best of them.
Bruno Fernandes gave away a penalty which Neal Maupay dispatched with a cheeky panaka. He ran away in celebration, pulling a cry baby expression with a grin on his face, but thankfully United quickly equalised after Fernandes drilled a freekick in to the back post for Nemanja Matic to tap in the direction of Harry Maguire.
In the second half, Fernandes played an exquisite ball through to Marcus Rashford but there was still plenty of work for the young forward to do. Yesterday, he sarcastically tweeted he would “stick to football” after facing criticism from some for fighting against child hunger in the UK. He did exactly that, twisting and turning in the box before firing United 2-1 up.
United were holding on, making defensive substitutions, before Brighton scored what looked to be the equaliser. Fernandes lost Solly March who headed what appeared to be the goal that would deny us the three points.
Brighton had hit the woodwork five times, so while the timing made it painful, it was hard to deny that they deserved something from the game. But United didn’t give in. Maguire got on to the end of a corner and his effort was cleared off the line. The ref blew the whistle but the United players were already surrounding him, claiming there had been a handball. Replays showed that Maupay had deflected Maguire’s header with his arm and after consulting the VAR monitor the referee awarded a penalty.
Fernandes had taken eight penalties for United before today, scoring them all, and in the 100th minute, with the pressure on, Bruno fired the ball in to the top corner.
It was an eventful game for the Portuguese midfielder and he has reflected on the game with BT Sport.
It was a very difficult game. We know that Brighton are a very good team with good qualities. We left so much space for them to play, we were not as aggressive as I want. We gave away two goals, on the penalty I can do much better, I need to stop earlier. Second goal, we need to do much better. We did some mistakes but big teams need to be like that, we need to believe until the end.
The first one the contact counts more for him than me but he was smart. I need to stop early and he was really smart.
We were leaving too many spaces for them to play. We were not as aggressive, we gave away two goals. We have to do much better. Maybe they say they did better. The point is to score goals not to hit the post or crossbar.
We know, even if it’s the end of the game, he has to wait for VAR. I think it was a clear handball. We have all seen the image. Sometimes you have to have some luck, you have to have some defenders defending well and a keeper also. David did really well today also all the defence. Okay, on the goals we need to do much better, I think everyone agrees and we will work on that.
Of course, sometimes you have to have some balls to take a penalty like this, you know? I know everyone trusts in me, I know everyone was expecting me to score. Like I said in interviews before, penalties are key in some games. Today was key and we scored. It doesn’t matter if I score or other players score, three points is the best way to go home.