Alexis Mac Allister scored a penalty late into stoppage time as Brighton stunned Manchester United 1-0 at the Amex on Thursday night as the Seagulls got revenge for losing the semi-final 11 days ago.
High-flying Brighton, who have ambitions of qualifying for Europe, impressed in an end-to-end first half and had the better chances after the restart before Luke Shaw’s handball gave Brighton the chance to win it in the dying seconds as Mac Allister slotted past David de Gea to spark wild scenes on the south coast.
The result means United remain fourth on 63 points, two behind – and their defeat is a boost to fifth-placed Liverpool – who are four points off the Red Devils, although ’s side have played an extra match.
Brighton, meanwhile, move up to sixth and still have two games in hand over teams directly around them – , Tottenam and Liverpool – with qualification a serious possibility for Roberto De Zerbi’s impressive team.
It was a thrilling match under the lights on Thursday and both sides had early chances with unable to hand United the lead after just 90 seconds despite Bruno Fernandes’ slick pass through the middle which gave the Brazilian a great opportunity before he wastefully fired wide of Jason Steele’s left-hand post.
Kaoru Mitoma should have put Brighton ahead moments later, intercepting Victor Lindelof’s lazy pass and rushing into the box before releasing a fierce shot which smacked De Gea straight in the face, with the United goalkeeper requiring some treatment afterwards.
The chances kept coming in an electric clash with Fernandes blazing a shot well over the bar and Mitoma’s low shot going just wide of the far post. Referee Andre Marriner then waved away Brighton’s appeals for a penalty after Mitoma went down in the box and Steele was forced into a save to stop .
Julio Enciso’s shot from just outside the area flew wide in another warning to United and Steele again denied the Red Devils an opener with a great save to deny Anthony Martial, who went one-on-one after a neat one-two with Fred.
Somehow, it remained goalless after a truly end-to-end opening 45 minutes and Japan international Mitoma was again causing trouble in the second half with a series of chances before impressively setting up Danny Welbeck, who fired wide.
It became one-way traffic on the south coast with United hanging on as Marriner again denied Brighton a penalty as Mitoma went down and Antony was arguably lucky to stay on the pitch for a nasty foul on Argentine Mac Allister and his subsequent reaction, but he and Brighton’s Lewis Dunk were only shown yellows.
United did have chances just before and just after that flare-up, with Steele producing a save from a curing Fernandes shot and Casemiro shooting just over the bar after the ball fell to him from Welbeck blocking Rashford’s effort.
But Brighton could have won the match late on with Solly March’s brilliant run seeing him skip past several players before firing just wide and De Gea produced two crucial late saves from Mac Allister and Moises Caicedo.
But Shaw gave away a penalty for handball with seconds remaining and World Cup winner Mac Allister fired home an impressive spot kick to hand Brighton all three points in a dramatic finish.