Brighton's Pascal Gross, right, celebrates scoring a goal with teammate Anthony Knockaert during their English Premier League match against Manchester United at Brighton. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA
Brighton's Pascal Gross, right, celebrates scoring a goal with teammate Anthony Knockaert during their English Premier League match against Manchester United at Brighton. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Gareth Fuller

Socceroo helps ensure Brighton's Premier League survival

Mat Ryan has guaranteed at least one Australian will be in the Premier League next season, with Brighton ensured their survival by beating Manchester United.

Pascal Gross scored the goal that sank Manchester United 1-0 to guarantee Premier League football for the Socceroo goalkeeper's Brighton side next season.

German midfielder Gross, Albion's undisputed player of the year, fittingly hit his seventh goal of the season to take the Seagulls to the magic 40-point mark.

United arrived on the south coast knowing a win would all but seal second place for them, but a desperate disappointing display means they will have to wait to secure the runners-up spot.

But Chris Hughton's side can now look forward to another season in the top flight having assured they are mathematically safe ahead of trips to Manchester City and Liverpool.

Jose Mourinho made six changes to a United side that was missing Romelu Lukaku, as expected, but the absence of Alexis Sanchez, also through injury, set alarm bells ringing 15 days before their clash with Chelsea in the FA Cup final.

It meant rare chances in attack for Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial in a line-that also included last Sunday's match-winner against Arsenal, Marouane Fellaini.

The Belgian, whose future remains uncertain with his contract almost up, had the ball in the net after only three minutes but he was offside when he turned home Rashford's free kick.

That was about as good as it got in a horribly disjointed display from United.

Paul Pogba was back to his laid-back worst and Juan Mata's passing was horribly out of kilter.

Brighton began to sense they might be the night to get the win they needed and David De Gea had to be alert to keep out a low Gross shot.

The hosts, aside from one Lewis Dunk slip that Rashford was unable to take advantage of, were well on top but could not find the breakthrough before half-time.

But Brighton got the goal they deserved in the 56th minute when Izqueirdo skipped past Matteo Darmian and stood a cross up towards the far post.

De Gea pushed the ball onto the head of Gross and although Marcos Rojo hooked it clear from underneath the crossbar, goal-line technology confirmed it had crossed the line.

United belatedly rallied but Ryan saved from Rashford and Jesse Lingard fired wide as Brighton held out for a memorable and thoroughly merited win.

Manchester United has now lost away to all three promoted teams this season.

Mourinho said: "For many months you are always asking me why this player doesn't play, why that player doesn't play, why this player is on the bench, why always Lukaku?

"You should be disappointed more than me because probably I know my players better than you, and probably you don't know them so well to be always with these questions.

"It was a difference in the desire to fight for the targets. They had one target, to get the points and celebrate their Premier League survival.

"We had the target to get the points to finish second, and they showed that for them it is more important than for us to finish second."

- PA


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