Cristiano Ronaldo ended his six-game scoreless streak to help Manchester United on their way to a much-needed 2-0 win against 10-man Brighton.
Having blown half-time leads to draw 1-1 in their last three matches, interim boss Ralf Rangnick called for his Jekyll and Hyde side to show their better side in Tuesday evening’s rearranged Premier League encounter.
Those calls fell on deaf ears in the first half as incoherent United were dominated by Brighton, only for a Ronaldo strike and Lewis Dunk red card early in the second half to change the course of the evening.
Bruno Fernandes’ stoppage-time strike wrapped up a 2-0 win that sees them move up to fourth, but Rangnick will know their Champions League rivals have games in hand on a side that remain incapable of impressing over 90 minutes.
Graham Potter’s Seagulls impressed for large periods of a first half in which David De Gea superbly denied Jakub Moder, with boos greeting the hosts’ display at the half-time whistle.
But things changed within minutes of the restart as Ronaldo scored his first goal of 2022, before Anthony Elanga’s pace caught out Dunk and referee Peter Bankes showed the Albion captain red after reviewing the footage.
United had a number of great chances to wrap up victory, with Moder rattling the bar and Danny Welbeck heading over before Fernandes settled nerves in stoppage time.