Brighton deserved no less, even though their two-goal lead at halftime may have a little bit overinflated them.

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Having said that, the second move's quality—which began with their own corner flag and ended with Gross retaking Solly March's saved shot—might have been worth three points on its own.

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After the break, United improved and came close to cutting the deficit in half when Marcus Rashford was wonderfully stopped by a spread-eagled Robert Sanchez.

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A few minutes later, the Spanish goalkeeper made a superb save to stop Christian Eriksen, but he then flubbed at an incoming corner that Alexis MacAllister eventually headed into his own goal.

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For United, it was, however, too little, too late.

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Ronaldo's delayed debut to preseason and demands to leave the club led Ten Hag to decide against starting him.

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Debutant Eriksen started as a “false nine” before Ten Hag threw Ronaldo on just seven minutes into the second half

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Despite that move the Dutchman insisted he had not erred by starting the Portuguese on the bench.

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“If a striker was available, I would have played him,” Ten Hag said afterwards.

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