Ten Hag loses first game as United manager to Brighton, Brentford hold Leicester

Published August 8, 2022
<p>MANCHESTER: Brighton and Hove Albion’s Pascal Gross scores past Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea during their Premier League match at Old Trafford on Sunday.—AFP</p>

MANCHESTER: Brighton and Hove Albion’s Pascal Gross scores past Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea during their Premier League match at Old Trafford on Sunday.—AFP

MANCHESTER: Erik ten Hag’s reign as Manchester United manager got off to a nightmare start as Brighton registered their first ever victory at Old Trafford with a 2-1 win on the opening weekend of the Premier League season while Brentford came from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Leicester City.

Any hope of a fresh start for United after a miserable 2021/22 season was wiped away within 45 minutes as Pascal Gross struck twice to put Brighton in command.

Alexis Mac Allister’s own goal gave United a foothold in the game, but they rarely looked like getting back on level terms, showing the scale of the task lying ahead for Ten Hag.

The former Ajax boss left Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench after he only returned to pre-season training last week.

But without the five time Ballon d’Or winner, United had no focal point to their attack as Christian Eriksen started in an unfamiliar role as a false nine.

The outcome could have been very different had Bruno Fernandes not blazed over a glorious chance on six minutes.

The nadir of a nightmare campaign for United last season as they finished sixth in the Premier League came in a 4-0 defeat to Brighton in May, and the Seagulls quickly settled into their passing rhythm.

Brighton exposed the same flaws in United’s wide open midfield to pick apart Ten Hag’s men with ease.

Danny Welbeck was a constant threat in behind the vulnerable defensive pairing of Harry Maguire and Lisandro Martinez.

Welbeck created the opener as he ran off Maguire and laid the ball across goal for Gross to slot into an unguarded net at the back post.

Boos rang out around Old Trafford at the half-time whistle, with the home fans not only restless about the state of their side on the pitch.

Rashford looked reborn during pre-season, but failed to make his mark when it counted as Robert Sanchez produced a stunning save to block the England International’s effort from Ronaldo’s pinpoint cross.

Sanchez undid that good work to give United a lifeline 22 minutes from time.

The Spanish International flapped at a corner under pressure from Diogo Dalot and then slapped the ball into his own net off the unfortunate Mac Allister.

But an expected siege on the Brighton goal never materialised as the visitors comfortably saw out the closing stages for a famous win.

Meanwhile, Substitute Josh Dasilva scored a superb equaliser with four minutes remaining as Brentford clinched a draw at the King Power Stadium.

Dasilva went on a mazy run on the edge of the box before curling a shot into the far corner, a goal of real quality to give Brentford a point they deserved for their second-half display.

Timothy Castagne and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall had scored in either half to put Leicester into a dominant position early in the second period, but Ivan Toney netted to halve the deficit and swing the momentum in Brentford’s favour.

It was the first time since 2003 that Leicester had failed to win a Premier League home game having been two goals ahead.

CHELSEA DOWN EVERTON

On Saturday, Chelsea put a troubled pre-season behind them to start their Premier League campaign with a 1-0 win at Everton as Chelsea ended a run of four consecutive defeats at Goodison Park thanks to Jorginho’s penalty.

It was redemption for Italy midfielder Jorginho, who saw his penalty saved by Everton and England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford during the Euro 2020 final last July.

Chelsea peppered the home goal with 13 corners in the first half but looked set to be frustrated as the interval approached, only for Jorginho to convert from the spot after Ben Chilwell has been fouled to give the visitors the lead.

A brilliant save from Edouard Mendy early in the second half to deny Abdoulaye Doucoure preserved Chelsea’s advantage, and that was as good as it got for a disappointing Everton, who only survived relegation by the skin of their teeth last term.

Published in Dawn, August 8th, 2022

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