MANCHESTER, England – Mason Greenwood found it a bit harder to score goals this season, but came out with a big goal in a 2-1 win at Old Trafford on Sunday night.
Going to a 1-1 draw with seven minutes to Brighton under threat of relegation, the young man was in the right place at the right time to get a vital win.
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Most of the evening, he felt that United would be sent to a conclusion that could drag them back into their first four races. Instead, with eight games remaining, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team is in second place, four points ahead of Leicester in third place. After scoring 10 Premier League goals last season, he was second only to Greenwood in the league this term, but he was a key player as United’s campaign was still balanced.
“Playing Brighton is always difficult,” Solskjaer said.
“We had good results and had to win them the hard way. We managed to find a way in the second half.
“I thought we started well, but after scoring we couldn’t find our rhythm again and we needed half time to compose ourselves and go again. We played good stuff in the second half. More running, more movement, better movement.
“Sometimes it takes time after international breaks, and maybe the fireworks should be lit in half.”
Choosing Dean Henderson as the target in front of David De Gea, Solskjaer has generally tried to ease the pressure on Greenwood since the 19-year-old entered the senior squad, but the striker is now at the center of his hopes for the rest of United. season.
There are doubts whether Anthony Martial will play again this season after suffering knee strain while on duty with France. Meanwhile, Marcus Rashford struggled here in the middle of the second half after scoring 1-1. Rashford previously withdrew from the England team with a knee problem and after being replaced by Dan James, he did not seem comfortable walking straight through the tunnel.
As Edinson Cavani struggles for form and fitness – he hasn’t scored in nearly two months – he puts the responsibility straight ahead of the goal on Greenwood’s young shoulders. And maybe he’s finding his feet when Solskjaer needs him the most – after scoring a 3-1 defeat to Leicester before the international break, he’s now two in two matches.
Greenwood started the season in headlines for the wrong reasons after being sent home by England, but there are signs that he’s ready to finish off in the same good form he loved in his first campaign.
“Mason Greenwood needs to add these goals to his gang because we know how great a talent he is, and we know he’ll be good when he adds those goals,” Solskjaer said.
“He was one of our brightest players today. He was clean, neat and on target. Inside this 6 yard box we need a head and more than Mason.”
United could limp towards the finish line of a long and tough season, but still end up in a boom or collapse. Finish second and win the Europa League and Solskjaer will have no problem discussing progress, but it is not certain yet. They haven’t won three consecutive matches since December, with strenuous and growing injuries. There were impressive performances at Manchester City and Milan, but there were also very few major setbacks from the FA Cup exit at King Power Stadium.
When Danny Welbeck scored his fourth goal to lead Brighton against United, it looked like there could be another goal. Even after Rashford equalized, Brighton turned down a strong penalty shot when Harry Maguire welbeck rounded up in the 6-yard box.
United struggled to get a lot of clear chances, but when Paul Pogba hit the goal with his shot, Greenwood got head-on. Even in a difficult first half, he seemed the most likely to score, and there was no chance of hitting the post with a hard right-hand move. – hand side of the penalty area.
“It was a difficult night,” Greenwood said. “We knew we had to react and perform better when they scored the first goal. Everyone was perfect in the second half.
“I don’t think we started very well, but we knew we had to open up and focus. We should have started from the moment we got on this, but that’s a good three numbers. There were a lot of guys behind the ball.
“This is a confidence booster, I haven’t scored that many goals in the Premier League.”
If United is to end the season at a high level, Solskjaer will need to get a few more of him.