Football

Half-time fireworks sparked win over Brighton: Solskjaer

Solskjaer says he needed to address his side's lack of rhythm against Brighton

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted he had to awaken Manchester United from their slumber as the Red Devils came from behind to beat Brighton & Hove Albion 2-1 yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Danny Welbeck headed the Seagulls in front against his former side as Brighton dominated the first half at Old Trafford.

However, for the eighth time in the league this season, Solskjaer's men came from behind to close the gap on English Premier League leaders Manchester City to 14 points, thanks to second-half goals from Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood.

"We couldn't find our rhythm. We needed half-time to compose ourselves," said Solskjaer.

"Sometimes after the international break, it takes time and then maybe the fireworks have to be lit at half-time."

United were a different side after the break as Bruno Fernandes took control of the game.

The Portuguese midfielder's effort on the hour mark was smothered by Brighton goalkeeper Robert Sanchez.

But just two minutes later, it was 1-1. Fernandes teed up Rashford to roll in his 19th goal of the season into the far corner with an accurate finish.

Rather than build on their momentum, though, Solskjaer's side were lucky to escape not falling behind once more.

Welbeck turned a dangerous low cross centimetres wide under pressure from Harry Maguire, who escaped giving away a penalty after a VAR (video assistant referee) review.

Greenwood then got on the end of a speculative Paul Pogba volley to complete the Old Trafford side's comeback seven minutes from time, prompting praise from Solskjaer.

"I'm so happy for him... When he gets those goals, we know that he's going to add another dimension to his game," said Solskjaer, who will be without defender Eric Bailly for a while after he tested positive for Covid-19 on international duty with the Ivory Coast.

Greenwood, 19, could feature more regularly, with France forward Anthony Martial set to miss the rest of the season due to a knee injury sustained on international duty.

United's victory opens up a four-point cushion over third-placed Leicester City and a commanding 11-point lead over fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool to close in on Champions League qualification next season.

Solskjaer's men next face Granada in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final on Friday morning. - AFP, REUTERS

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