Manchester United came from behind to beat Brighton for the second time this season as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side took a significant step towards confirming a place in next year’s Champions League yesterday.
Brighton looked set for the first Old Trafford victory in their history when former United striker Danny Welbeck reacted quickest after his initial header had been saved, nodding the visitors in front from close range.
However, not for the first time this season, United improved from a lethargic opening period to sweep to victory in the second.
Marcus Rashford levelled when he opened up his body and rolled an excellent shot into the corner from Bruno Fernandes’ lay-off.
Then, with eight minutes remaining, teenager Mason Greenwood headed home his first Premier League goal at Old Trafford this season after Paul Pogba’s volley had bounced into the ground.
The result gives United an 11-point cushion in the battle for a top-four place, although West Ham and Everton could reduce that to eight if they both win their matches in hand.
Eventually, this game may be viewed as being more significant for what happened before it, rather than what occurred in it.
In the build-up, Solskjaer said both his goalkeepers would play matches before the end of the season.
However, the choice of Dean Henderson over David de Gea seemed significant.
Henderson played in six consecutive games immediately prior to the international break after De Gea returned to Spain for the birth of his first child.
Tonight though, there was no reason why De Gea should be sidelined other than manager Solskjaer’s preference.
It has been obvious for some time the present situation was untenable heading into next season and now United could have the tricky problem of trying to sell their highest earner when every club’s finances are being stretched.
That said, Henderson has to justify his place.
No blame could be attached to the England man for Welbeck’s goal as he did remarkably well to keep the first effort out.
Spilling a routine cross not long afterwards that required the intervention of Harry Maguire to clear the danger was a worry though.
Henderson was a bystander when Lewis Dunk clipped the bar as Brighton tried to increase their lead but the calm way he dealt with the reduced work he was provided with after the interval offers no obvious reason why Solskjaer should regret his decision.