New season, same old problems. The Erik Ten
Hag era at Manchester United began on a disappointing note as the Red Devils
suffered defeat on the first matchday of the season at the hands of Graham
Potter’s Brighton. A first-half brace from Pascal Gross gave the Seagulls an
early 2-0 lead before Alexis Mac Allister bundled into his own net in the 68th
minute to bring the hosts back into the contest. However, United couldn’t find
the equaliser in the closing stages and slumped to another dispiriting loss in
front of the Old Trafford crowd.
Cristiano Ronaldo found himself on the
bench in Erik ten Hag’s first starting XI in the Premier League while new
signings Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez made their full debuts for the
club, the former playing as a false nine up top. United started brightly in the
sparkling Manchester sunshine as Bruno Fernandes blazed his shot from inside
the penalty box over the bar in the opening ten minutes, but the optimism of
pre-season soon fizzled out.
Brighton continued to carve through the
Manchester United backline and eventually got their rewards as they opened the
scoring through Pascal Gross at the half-hour mark. Former United star Danny
Welbeck found space behind Harry Maguire before lashing a cross across goal
that Gross calmly converted into the empty net.
Brighton doubled their lead less than ten
minutes later when David de Gea palmed Solly March’s shot straight to the feet
of Gross, with the German making no mistake from close-range to make it 2-0.
United went into half-time to a chorus of boos, and the worries continued after
the break as Danny Welbeck lost Lisandro Martinez for a free header in the
six-yard box and arguably also should have had a penalty due to a foul from the
Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival seven minutes
into the second half did make a difference as United looked more purposeful in
attack, with Marcus Rashford receiving two golden opportunities to pull one
back. The Red Devils finally halved the deficit in the 68th minute after a
comedy of errors from the Brighton backline while defending a corner.
Goalkeeper Robert Sanchez failed to get a clean connection on his punch while
Alexis Mac Allister bundled the ball into the Brighton net during the
United probed further in the final 20
minutes but found no way past as Graham Potter’s side held on for their
first-ever victory at Old Trafford in the Premier League, while Erik Ten Hag’s
reign in Manchester got off to the worst possible start.