Neal Maupay chipped a cheeky Panenka penalty high into David de Gea’s net with the Manchester United goalkeeper sprawled on the floor. Then the Frenchman wheeled away towards the empty stands at the Amex, screwed up his fists and held them to his eyes as if to cry.
Boohoo. Maupay hadn’t only embarrassed De Gea, who kicked the ball at him in anger, he now seemed to be mocking Brighton’s opponents after putting them in front just before half-time.
Little more than an hour later, at the climax of a frantic and frankly quite barmy game, the Frenchman stood in roughly the same spot and this time the tears welling in his eyes were genuine.
Neal Maupay had endured a rollercoaster afternoon after scoring and giving away a penalty
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted Manchester United were fortunate to beat a dominant Brighton
Maupay couldn’t believe what he had just done: raised his arm to deflect Harry Maguire’s header inside his own box.
What followed almost beggared belief. The final whistle, the protestations from both teams, the dramatic VAR check pitchside and, finally, Bruno Fernandes scoring from the spot himself to make it 3-2.
Maupay’s face was a picture and one that summed up Brighton’s heartbreak. They deserved to win never mind draw. Five times they hit the woodwork – with Leandro Trossard getting an unwanted hat-trick of striking both posts and the bar – and had another penalty award overturned for Paul Pogba’s clumsy challenge on Aaron Connolly.
Bruno Fernandes stepped up in stoppage time to fire home a spot kick after Maupay's handball
Maupay was penalised after full-time for using his arm to stop Harry Maguire's glancing header
Brighton hit the woodwork five times and United were outplayed for the second week runing
Yes, United had two goals disallowed but for the second week in a row they had been outplayed by a team likely to finish in the bottom half of the Premier League table.
For Crystal Palace read Brighton & Hove Albion. Only the result was different. Having lost 3-1 to Palace, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted that his team ‘got away with one’ on this occasion and he was right.
Thankfully for the manager he will be spared another week of criticism and inquests, but the truth is an undercooked United were every bit as sluggish again.
They got out of jail thanks to a flash of inspiration from Marcus Rashford and Maguire’s presence in the Brighton box that led to the other two goals. Most of all,