Football: Ashley Young goal seals record run for Manchester United

Manchester United's Ashley Young shooting past Brighton's David Stockdale from outside the box. His shot found the back of the net courtesy of a heavy deflection off Lewis Dunk (not pictured), giving the home side the lead, with the Brighton defender
Manchester United's Ashley Young shooting past Brighton's David Stockdale from outside the box. His shot found the back of the net courtesy of a heavy deflection off Lewis Dunk (not pictured), giving the home side the lead, with the Brighton defender credited with the ignominy of scoring the own goal.PHOTO: REUTERS

ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Manchester United 1

Brighton 0

History is not always made in auspicious fashion. Manchester United have scored four goals seven times this season. They mustered only one yesterday, but it helped set a new club record.

Ashley Young's deflected winner extended their 100 per cent start to the season at home and means United have now gone 39 games unbeaten at Old Trafford, something they had never done before.

It was a grind, an uninspired game settled in a way that could leave Brighton rueing their luck, but Jose Mourinho has usually enjoyed being judged on his results. This counted as a decent one against obdurate opposition.

Mourinho had been branded defensive by Eric Cantona, the United great who said he would rather have Pep Guardiola as manager.

The Portuguese could claim an attacking gambit brought victory. Young is a winger who has been reinvented as a full-back. He had the confidence to shoot from 20 metres and the fortune to see his effort fly in.

Brighton were irritated by the award of a corner. Marcus Rashford took it. The ball came to Young on the edge of the box. Lewis Dunk, showing the commitment that has made him such an effective defender this season, flew in to block. The ball looped up off his right boot. Goalkeeper Mathew Ryan was given no chance.

And so, on a day when Mourinho fielded Romelu Lukaku, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Rashford, Anthony Martial, Juan Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marouane Fellaini and Paul Pogba at various points, his left-back closed the gap to leaders Manchester City to five points.

Young was troubled defensively at times; Anthony Knockaert showed his trickery on Brighton's right wing and the Premier League newcomers threatened to emulate Hull and Burnley, the promoted sides who secured stalemates at Old Trafford last season.

And United were stale for long periods. Ibrahimovic is being eased back into first-team football after his seven-month lay-off. He was dispatched along the touchline to warm up after a mere 35 minutes, presumably in an attempt to jolt his colleagues into life. He eventually came on for the final half-hour, with Mata predictably the man sacrificed.

It had taken United 22 minutes to muster an effort on target and 44 to pose a real threat. Both were headers from Lukaku, the latter drawing a sprawling save from Ryan. The Australian goalkeeper recovered to block when Pogba tried to prod in the rebound.

That alarm apart, he was well protected. Brighton have never won at Old Trafford, but looked on course for their most prestigious point of the season. Even after going behind, Knockaert and Bruno provided the most inviting of low crosses. They only required a finishing touch, but there was none and United chalked up another home win and another clean sheet.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 26, 2017, with the headline 'Young goal seals record run for United'. Print Edition | Subscribe