Brighton & Hove Albion 1-0 Manchester United Player Ratings: Super Stephens

Is Gross one of the signings of the season? –

Brighton & Hove Albion secured Premier League survival on Friday night, when Pascal Gross’ header gave them a 1-0 victory over a disjointed Manchester United side. Here’s our player ratings from the game.

The Seagulls

Maty Ryan – showed safe hands to deny Pogba and Rashford in the second half. Although he wasn’t tested as much as he would have expected to be for a 10th league clean sheet, he still evoked confidence. 7

Bruno – without a clear physical advantage over his opponents, the 37-year-old appears to have acquired extra intelligence to his game and that was evident in the forward runs he made. 8
Shane Duffy – made some excellent blocks and won five aerial duels, according to WhoScored. Especially important in the closing stages when the midfield dropped slightly deeper. 9
Lewis Dunk – had a very impressive game, during which the only blemish was an overly strong first touch that allowed Rashford to get through midway through the first half. Picked out one or two nice passes in the first half. 7
Gaetan Bong – held his position well and worked in tandem with Izquierdo, especially in the defensive phases. Quick to second balls when he needed to be. 7

Anthony Knockaert – worked hard to deny space for Ashley Young in the defensive third early on, then grew in confidence as an attacking threat as the game progressed. Made some excellent runs in from the right channel, at one point showing quick feet to leave Rojo on the floor. 9
Davy Propper – the midfielder was playing his first competitive game for a month after suspension, but he needed no time to settle. Made some excellent blocks in the first half and was a tenacious presence throughout. 8
Dale Stephens – closed down superbly and owned the midfield for long spells, especially in the first half. Forced closer to his own penalty area for periods of the second half. 9
Jose Izquierdo – forced a good save from De Gea from distance in the first half and showed excellent movement. His header just before the hour mark led to the goal. 7

Pascal Gross – pressed United’s centre-backs well, thus affecting their ability to play out from the back. Fully deserved his headed winner, which narrowly crossed the line to cap a wonderful individual debut Premier League campaign. 9
Glenn Murray – worked hard all evening, even if he was a touch fortunate not to be sent off for an over-zealous scissor challenge on Fellaini. Forced a good stop from De Gea in the first half with, unusually, a shot from outside the box. 7

Beram Kayal (on 84)
Solly March (on 88)
Leonardo Ulloa (on 90+3)

Manchester United

David De Gea – by far Manchester United’s best player in the first half, making good saves from Murray and Izquierdo. As poor as his teammates were, the Spaniard nearly managed a clean sheet, even denying Izquierdo’s header before the rebound was converted. 8

Matteo Darmian – neither he nor Antonio Valencia give United the width they need from full-back. Guilty of being out of position when Brighton attacked down his flank, forcing a centre-back into a wide area. 3
Chris Smalling – one of the better players who at times bailed Darmian out. Not at his best but should not be blamed primarily for the defeat. 6
Marcos Rojo – appears to lack the strength and balance required for a Manchester United centre-back. For a player that was brought in for his ball-playing skills, his passing was also well below the desired standard. 4
Ashley Young – looked better when he moved to right-back and had the ability to swing a cross in first time, rather than cut onto his right foot. It seems almost baffling that Young has held onto the left-back position for so long. 4

Marouane Fellaini – appeared to suffer from a lack of clarity as to what his role was. Caught between central midfield and the final third, which made United vulnerable in the transitional phases. 3
Nemanja Matic – struggled to handle Knockaert’s inward runs in the first half and while his defensive awareness improved slightly in the second half, his passing range remained limited. 4

Juan Mata – always wanted to drift into central areas, giving United a lack of balance, especially in the absence of an attacking right-back. Spent far too long in his own half. 3
Paul Pogba – difficult to defend this performance, even if United’s lack of creativity more generally is down to other factors. Started to dictate play more very late on but he has to be switched on for longer periods. 4
Anthony Martial – barely got on the ball in the first half. Although the Frenchman saw more possession after the break, he always wanted to drive into central areas, which fed into Brighton’s hands. 3

Marcus Rashford – his decision making in that one first half moment will always be remembered as a defining moment, although he arguably produced the best test for Ryan in the second half with a stinging drive. 4

Jesse Lingard (on 68) – his positive movement off the ball was something United had been missing in the first half. 7
Luke Shaw (on 68) – appeared more comfortable breaking into the final third than Young did. 7
Scott McTominay (on 76) – not exactly the ideal man to turn to when needing a goal in the closing stages. 5