Brighton embarrassed a woeful Manchester United at the Amex Stadium in the Premier League on Saturday evening, running up a 4-0 scoreline and controlling the game from start to finish.
Moises Caicedo set the ball rolling in the first half, but a flurry of second half goals from Marc Cucurella, Pascal Gross and Leandro Trossard put the Seagulls, who had only scored 12 times at home in the Premier League all season prior to kick-off, in dreamland.
It was a poor start from the visitors, who were utterly lethargic for the first 15 minutes. Brighton didn’t have to work particularly hard to be comfortably on top during those opening stages but got their goal when self-confessed United fan Caicedo drove a low shot into the net.
Ralf Rangnick will have questions to ask about his players’ failure to clear the danger and slow response, leaving the Ecuadorian youngster too much time to find the bottom corner.
United didn’t wake up until going behind, soon after which Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic missed the target with half chances. That didn’t last, however, as Brighton soon regained full control and Danny Welbeck should have doubled the lead when Raphael Varane’s dreadful touch gifted him a chance with David de Gea stranded, but the ex-United man couldn’t get his lob on target.
If away fans had hoped for a half-time rocket up their players, they were mistaken. Brighton’s deserved second goal came just two minutes into the second half. Similar to the first, United failed to clear the danger, with Cucurella firing Trossard’s cutback high into the net.
55 minutes had passed before Mata registered United’s first shot on target, hooking a volley goalward that was straight at Robert Sanchez.
Brighton responded to that by scoring a third. There was no pressure on the ball from the visitors, as the Seagulls sent it from back to front in seconds. A long Sanchez pass found Cucurella, who found Trossard, who in turn played in Gross for a ridiculously easy goal.
By then, the collapse was fully on. With the United defence nowhere to be seen, Welbeck got in on goal. His dink to the far post was hooked away by Diogo Dalot, but only into Trossard’s midriff on the goal-line to bundle the ball in for 4-0.
Sanchez had to be smart a couple of times with saves from Edinson Cavani and Bruno Fernandes, but Brighton should have got a fifth when Alexis Mac Allister exchanged passes in the penalty area and somehow bundled the ball into the outside of the post rather than in.
United went for damage limitation after that, adding Harry Maguire to the back-line. Ironically, the returning skipper almost scored a would-be consolation, but Sanchez was equal to it. Cavani then prodded the ball in but was ruled offside.
Brighton vs Man Utd player ratings - Premier League
1. Brighton (3-4-2-1)
GK: Robert Sanchez - 8/10 - Made a few decent saves in the second half that kept United at bay to preserve the clean sheet.
CB: Joel Veltman - 7/10 - Comfortable. Would have expected to be under more pressure but did everything he needed to.
CB: Lewis Dunk (c) - 7/10 - A much better game than when he was sent off in the reverse fixture.
CB: Marc Cucurella - 9/10 - Got forward really well, despite actually lining up as the third centre-back. Deserved his goal, smashing the ball past De Gea, and was a hugely effective outlet in attack.
RWB: Solly March - 7/10 - Showed good strength as Brighton opened the scoring, not allowing Telles to clear.
CM: Yves Bissouma - 8/10 - In control in the centre of the pitch. Out fought United and it was that simple at times.
CM: Moises Caicedo - 9/10 - Scored his first ever Premier League goal with a good low shot. Hardly gave the ball away either.
LWB: Leandro Trossard - 8/10 - Finished with two good assists. Also rewarded with a goal of his own as he blocked Dalot's goal-line clearance.
AM: Pascal Gross - 7/10 - Showed composure as he burst into the penalty area to score what was actually an easy third.
AM: Alexis Mac Allister - 7/10 - Impressed during his hour on the pitch. Should have scored one of his own but struck the post.
ST: Danny Welbeck - 8/10 - Smart movement made him difficult for the United centre-backs to pick up. Should have scored at least once himself but played a major role in his team's fourth.
SUB: Adam Webster (66' for Mac Allister) - 6/10
SUB: Tariq Lamptey (76' for March) - 6/10
SUB: Neal Maupay (83' for Trossard) - 5/10
2. Man Utd (4-3-3)
GK: David de Gea - 4/10 - What must he be thinking about the team in front of him?
RB: Diogo Dalot - 4/10 - Easily turned in the build up to Brighton's second goal. Already on a yellow card by that point. Looked to be trying though.
CB: Victor Lindelof - 1/10 - Nowhere to be seen as Brighton scored time after time. Truly awful.
CB: Raphael Varane - 2/10 - Has been dragged down to the level of his teammates after supposedly being the man to fix the defence.
LB: Alex Telles - 2/10 - At fault constantly.
CM: Scott McTominay - 2/10 - Given his previous statements about working hard and taking accountability, he was pathetically off the pace.
CM: Nemanja Matic - 6/10 - Looked like he was trying to pick forward passes, but there was so little movement from others. Lucky he was withdrawn at half-time to avoid the second half horror show.
RM: Anthony Elanga - 3/10 - Got zero change out of Cucurella.
AM: Juan Mata - 4/10 - Actually had a shot on target.
LM: Bruno Fernandes (c) - 4/10 - Didn't suit being out on the left. Had more impact in a more central role on.
ST: Cristiano Ronaldo - 3/10 - A yellow card for a frustrated foul in the first half summed up his day. Had no service to work with.
SUB: Edinson Cavani (46' for Elanga) - 5/10
SUB: Fred (46' for Matic) - 3/10
SUB: Harry Maguire (70' for Mata) - 5/10