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Man Utd warm-up for FA Cup final by ruining Roberto De Zerbi’s Brighton farewell
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Ed Elliot
Press Association
Manchester United won on the south coast (Steven Paston/PA)
Manchester United won on the south coast (Steven Paston/PA)

Manchester United ruined Roberto De Zerbi’s Brighton farewell but a 2-0 win at the Amex Stadium was insufficient to prevent the 20-time English champions suffering their worst Premier League finish.

Second-half strikes from Diogo Dalot and substitute Rasmus Hojlund secured victory on a sun-drenched afternoon in Sussex.

Yet, following Newcastle’s victory at Brentford, a place in Europe next season – and potentially the future of under-fire manager Erik ten Hag – is now reliant on United beating Manchester City in next weekend’s FA Cup final.

United end a dismal campaign eighth – their lowest final position since coming 13th in the old first division under Sir Alex Ferguson in 1990 – and with a negative goal difference.

Brighton announced on Saturday the fixture would mark the end of De Zerbi’s history-making tenure, which began in September 2022 following Graham Potter’s departure to Chelsea.

The Seagulls could have piled on more misery for United but were unable to capitalise on a host of promising openings before their profligacy was punished in the final 17 minutes.

Albion finish in 11th place after slipping below bitter rivals Crystal Palace.

United arrived on the south coast still in contention for seventh spot thanks to Wednesday’s 3-2 success over Newcastle.

Centre-back Lisandro Martinez made his first start since early February for the visitors, while Adam Lallana captained the Seagulls on his final appearance for the club in the absence of the injured Lewis Dunk.

De Zerbi, who this season led Albion to the last 16 of the Europa League during the club’s maiden continental campaign, should have celebrated a 12th-minute opener.

Valentin Barco was given far too much space by Aaron Wan-Bissaka after being played in by Carlos Baleba on the left but his low effort was repelled by the legs of Andre Onana.

Scott McTominay wastefully skied his finish following a swift United break led by Bruno Fernandes, before the away side were reliant on Martinez turning over Adam Webster’s goal-bound header from a Barco corner.

Ten Hag believes his club are in a better position than they were 12 months ago, despite the raft of poor results.

The Dutchman breathed a further sigh of relief in the 32nd minute when Seagulls striker Joao Pedro lashed wide with the goal gaping.

Brighton continued to have the better of the play following the restart.

Casemiro cleared off the line to prevent Pedro turning home Jakub Moder’s cross before Lallana’s follow-up effort was deflected over, to the obvious frustration of De Zerbi.

United were largely restricted to chances on the counter and replaced Martinez and Fernandes with Jonny Evans and Hojlund for the final half an hour.

The away team gradually began to take control of the contest and edged in front with a route one goal in the 73rd minute.

Under pressure from Hojlund, Igor Julio failed to deal with Casemiro’s long ball forward and Dalot raced clear to slot home in front of the travelling fans.

Hojlund continued his impressive cameo by wrapping up victory two minutes from time, dancing into the box and calmy finishing beyond Jason Steele.

De Zerbi waved an emotional goodbye at the full-time whistle, while United will now look to end an underwhelming season by lifting silverware at Wembley.


Premier LeagueBrighton & Hove AlbionManchester United
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