...By Malcolm Hemsworth for TDPel Media.
Brighton gained sweet revenge for their defeat to Manchester United on penalties in the FA Cup semi-final on Thursday as Alexis Mac Allister scored from the spot in the dying seconds to earn a 1-0 win.
The Seagulls beat United 2-1 in their first match of the season but suffered a painful defeat in last month’s FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on spot-kicks.
The result leaves United in fourth place in the Premier League with five games to play — four points clear of fifth-placed Liverpool with a game in hand, while Brighton — seeking to qualify for Europe for the first time in their history — are now sixth.
Both teams wasted clear-cut chances in the opening minutes of an entertaining encounter at the Amex Stadium.
Brazilian winger Antony was put through by Bruno Fernandes in just the second minute but fired wastefully wide.
Two minutes later Japan’s Kaoru Mitoma intercepted a careless ball across the defence at the other end and broke into the box before hitting a shot that smashed goalkeeper David de Gea in the face.
The lively Mitoma, putting United right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka under huge pressure, danced into the area again in the 13th minute but was unable to finish.
The home side, bursting with confidence after a 6-0 win against Wolves, were enjoying the bulk of possession but United looked dangerous on the break.
The impressive Marcus Rashford hit a shot from a tight angle that Brighton goalkeeper Jason Steele did well to keep out at his near post.
Argentine World Cup winner Mac Allister marauded forward but put his shot wide of De Gea’s goal and Julio Enciso also dragged a shot wide after another lightning attack.
Anthony Martial shot straight at Steele after an incisive move at the other end.
Brighton finished a half that featured 17 shots the stronger team but neither side could break the deadlock.
Roberto De Zerbi’s team were again on top in the early stages of the second half, forcing United to be patient as they kept hold of the ball.
But Mitoma and Danny Welbeck were guilty of wasting openings.
Fernandes had a chance midway through the second half which Steele palmed away, before Antony received a booking for a rash tackle.
The game became more scrappy, suiting United, who were struggling to find fluency.
Substitute Solly March drove wide after a driving run from midfield in the closing stages.
In the 90th minute De Gea dived to his right to keep out a Mac Allister strike, puffing out his cheeks in relief.
But the home side had one final chance after Luke Shaw was penalised for handball following VAR intervention and Mac Allister made no mistake, lashing the ball high into the net.