Six things we learned from Brighton's defeat to Manchester United

Brighton exited the FA Cup at the quarter-final stage to Manchester United last night. Here's six things we learned from the game.

Sunday, 18th March 2018, 8:50 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 6:34 am
Jurgen Locadia in action at Old Trafford. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)

Premier League quality

If Albion perform how they did at Old Trafford, there is no doubt they will still be in the Premier League next season.

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho said so much afterwards and Albion striker Jurgen Locadia added if the team continue to replicate that type of performance for the rest of the season they will keep their place in the top flight.

Jesse Lingard and Romelu Lukaka celebrate United's opening goal. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)

Brighton again left United proud but disappointed after another battling display, just like the 1-0 league defeat in November.

Back-to-back games at the Amex against Leicester and Huddersfield give Albion the chance to all but seal their place in the Premier League for next season. A minimum of four points will leave them in a healty position with six matches still to play.

The Seagulls are currently 12th, six points ahead of the bottom three, so need to make the most out of the next two games with a tricky run to finish the season.

Clinical edge

United's quality told with the two moments that mattered.

In his pre-match press conference, which included a 12-minute answer talking about the club's exit from the Champions League, Jose Mourinho said the likes of Nemanja Matic, Romelu Lukaka and David De Gea are part of United's heritage.

They were the three United players United singled out and Mourinho was again full of praise for Matic afterwards.

His inch-perfect cross to the back post picked out Lukaku, who headed home from a couple of yards after he peeled away from Lewis Dunk for the opener.

From an Albion perspective, it was very similar to Everton's first goal last weekend following a cross from the right.

United's second goal also owed much to the delivery as Ashley Young's free kick was met by Matic, who got the better of Dunk, to nod home from close range.

Bright and lively

There were encouraging signs from an Albion point of view with the performance of Jurgen Locadia. The club record signing proved a handful for the United defence as he made just his second start.

The £16m signing from PSV Eindhoven scored on his debut against Coventry and also came off the bench to net on his Premier League debut against Swansea the following week.

He got the chance to push his case to start again after the international break and certainly did himself no harm.

His clever runs caused a couple of problems in the first half and his pace and power will also prove a valuable tool for the Seagulls, who appear to have made another shrewd addition to add to all their summer signings.

Locadia twice went close early in the second half when he forced United keeper Sergio Romero into two smart saves and he also headed wide at the back post from Solly March's cross when he probably should have done better.

Right-back Ezequiel Schelotto was another stand-out performer on the night for Albion as he recovered from a difficult afternoon at Everton in the previous match.

Saturday Night Cup Fever

More than 5,000 Brighton fans travelled up north to Manchester for the club's first FA Cup quarter-final since 1986 - and just the third in their history.

An unfriendly 7.45pm kick-off on a Saturday evening meant Albion fans either had to stay up for the night or arrive home in the early hours after a long drive.

But they were still out in number and a crowd of 74,241 was inside Old Trafford.

It was a bitterly cold evening in Manchester, with temperatures below freezing and the wind chill made it feel like minus-six.

Snow covered the pitch a couple of hours before kick-off but that had all been cleared by the United ground staff by the time the match got underway.

Defying the temperature

With fans wrapped up in as many layers as possible, several players were also covererd up in the freezing conditions - apart from a couple.

And there's no surprise who. With temperatures were below freezing, Albion central defenders Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy were both in just a short-sleeved t-shirts and no gloves.

Numerous players wore underarmour or gloves - or both - but United trio Eric Bailly, Scott McTominay and Juan Mata also went for just the short-sleeved top option.

Dunk and Duffy were again impressive in central defence as United had just two shots on goal during the game - the two goals - but for both, Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic managed to get away from Dunk.

Strength in depth

After their seven-game unbeaten run ended at Everton last week, Chris Hughton made five changes to the starting 11 but still fielded a strong line-up.

Tim Krul remained in goal for the competition as number one Mathew Ryan was not in the 18-man squad.

Albion were again without midfielder Dale Stephens, while left-back Gaetan Bong also missed out after limping off at Everton last week.

Leicester loanee Leonardo Ulloa played the lone striker role, with Jurgen Locadia and Solly March on the wings. Albion were lively going forward, especially as they chased the game in the second half, and had 17 shots on goal to United's eight.

Albion also included 19-year-old midfielder Max Sanders in a matchday squad for the first time.

Brighton produced their best away performance of the season in their 1-0 Premier League defeat at United earlier in the season and again impressed on the big stage at Old Trafford as they returned home with a number of positives.

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