English Premier League

Brighton 0-2 Manchester United

Brighton 0-2 Manchester United. Rasmus Hojlund and Diogo Dalot helped Manchester United finish their worst Premier League season with a 2-0 victory at Brighton.

Despite the win, Erik ten Hag’s side end the campaign eighth – their lowest top-flight finish since 1989-90.

Brighton, meanwhile, failed to give departing boss Roberto de Zerbi the perfect send-off, despite having the better chances and dominating possession.

Adam Webster and Joao Pedro came closest to putting the Seagulls ahead in the first half, but they each lacked the clinical edge to beat Andre Onana.

Brighton were left regretting missed chances when Dalot slotted past Jason Steele in the 73rd minute, before substitute Hojlund sealed the three points two minutes before the end of normal time.

The Seagulls end the season 11th, missing out on the top half by a single point.

Manchester United went into the final day knowing they needed a result better than Newcastle’s to guarantee seventh place and European football next season.

But hopes quickly faded as the Magpies went into the half-time break with a 3-0 lead at Brentford.

Newcastle eventually wrapped up a 4-2 win, meaning the Red Devils will have to beat Manchester City in the FA Cup on Saturday if they are to secure a spot in next season’s Europa League.

Before their season-finale against Brighton, Ten Hag said Manchester United were in a stronger position now than they were 12 months ago.

But they have swapped a third-place finish and the Champions League for eighth, along with the possibility of no European football next season.

Their performance at Amex Stadium summed up an underwhelming season, as United struggled to deal with Brighton’s intricate passing and were pinned into their own half for much of the game.

However, makeshift centre-back Casemiro put recent criticism behind him as he kept United in the game with a brilliant goalline clearance from Joao Pedro.

The Brazilian, normally a defensive midfielder, also set up Dalot’s goal, sending a superb ball over the top of the Brighton defence.

Despite their worst Premier League finish, there have been positives for United this season and Hojlund’s performance off the bench was an example.

The Denmark international linked up with Christian Eriksen before waltzing through the Brighton defence and unleashing a low strike past Steele.

United’s chance to win the FA Cup on Saturday was evident when Ten Hag made the decision to rest players, substituting Lisandro Martinez and Bruno Fernandes before the hour mark.

The victory will boost confidence, and likely keep under-pressure Ten Hag in a job until Saturday’s final, but United will need to improve massively over the next week if they are to challenge Premier League champions Manchester City at Wembley.

The timing of De Zerbi’s announcement came as a surprise on Saturday, but it ensured he got the send-off he deserved.

Brighton fans waved their goodbyes to the Italian, with chants of ‘Oh Roberto de Zerbi’ ringing around the ground throughout the game.

De Zerbi guided Brighton to their highest top-flight finish last season, with sixth place securing European qualification for the first time in their history.

While the Seagulls’ season has fizzled out, an 11th-place finish can be seen as a success considering the strain of European competition and losing star players Alexis Mac Allister and Moises Caicedo in the last summer transfer window, along with lengthy injuries to Solly March and Kaoru Mitoma.

There was also a farewell for Adam Lallana, who made his 95th and final Premier League appearance for Brighton after announcing his departure from the club this week.

The 36-year-old midfielder was in floods of tears as he hugged De Zerbi when replaced by Julio Enciso in the 55th minute.

But there were smiles as the departing pair received a guard of honour and a standing ovation from the Brighton faithful, who made one last plea for De Zerbi to remain with repeated chanting of “we want you to stay”.

source – BBC

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