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Ralf Rangnick was thankful Brighton helped Manchester United qualify for next season’s Europa League following their own 1-0 loss away to Crystal Palace.

Rangnick left the hotseat by telling incoming boss Erik Ten Hag to focus on improving the team spirit at Old Trafford.

The Red Devils saw a sorry campaign end with another defeat after Wilfried Zaha’s first-half goal but they avoided the embarrassment of dropping into the Europa Conference League after West Ham were unable to win at Brighton.

It meant United finished the season in sixth but there would have been little positives for Ten Hag to take after he watched from the stand at Selhurst Park.

Rangnick said: “Yes, I think Brighton did us the favour to turn the game around because they were losing at half-time. They scored three times in the second half and that was the good thing about the weekend and about this fixture.

“We would have loved to take care of ourselves but in a way the game was indicative of last couple of weeks, especially when we played away from home.

“It was a new experience for me, not necessary coming in the middle of the season but knowing that it would be an interim role. Unfortunately we didn’t have any pre-season and unfortunately we couldn’t strengthen the squad.

“These things happen and in hindsight it was a little bit bittersweet or sweet bitter rather because in the first couple of weeks and months did well. We collected enough points with an average of 2.1 until the game against Atletico but I think that defeat in the Champions League was in a way like somebody popped the balloon.”

Ex-RB Leipzig manager Rangnick, who will continue to work with United in a consultancy role, did not hold back in his assessment key members of the Old Trafford squad lost focus after they exited the Champions League in March.

The Red Devils were fifth in the table before they were knocked out by Atletico and would win only two of their remaining nine matches.

Rangnick added: “I think the big goal of some of our top players was the Champions League and after this defeat to Atletico you could literally feel it in training that we did not have the same level of energy, focus and concentration in training.

“In the league if you are not playing at the best or highest level, and this also happened before I arrived, even against bottom teams like Watford you can concede four goals and this can happen.”

While Ten Hag was at Palace, he did not come into the United dressing room and Rangnick has also not spoken to the ex-Ajax boss in person.

The German plans to over the coming days and warned his successor of a key challenge at Old Trafford.

“Team spirit, yes this is also an issue,” Rangnick admitted. “I think this team could do with more cohesion, there could be more togetherness on the pitch.

“This is also important when we think of new players – when the board together with the manager are thinking about new players – that we make sure they are not only players that have the quality to strengthen the squad but they are players who will invest in the team spirit.”

Patrick Vieira saw his side claim another win to secure a 12th-place finish.

He said: “It was the best way to end the season, to win the game against United because of what they represent in the Premier League.

“I was really pleased because we won and we had another clean sheet at home so a good way to end the season.”

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West Ham missed the chance to snatch a dramatic Europa League return after squandering a lead to lose 3-1 to Brighton at the Amex Stadium.

The Hammers, who suffered semi-final heartbreak in the continental competition just over two weeks ago, were on course to leapfrog Manchester United into sixth position following Michail Antonio’s stunning 40th-minute opener.

But second-half strikes from Joel Veltman, Pascal Gross and Danny Welbeck turned the game in the Seagulls’ favour to prevent David Moyes’ men capitalising on United losing 1-0 at Crystal Palace.

The east London club must be content with a place in the Europa Conference League next term following a result which saw Brighton secure a maiden top-half finish in the Premier League – and the highest league position in the club’s 121-year history.

West Ham arrived on the south coast assured of at least seventh place but only two points behind Ralf Rangnick’s side.

Manager Moyes stuck with the team which began last weekend’s creditable 2-2 draw with Manchester City, while defender Adam Webster replaced the injured Leandro Trossard for Albion.

Brighton began brighter and threatened early on through Moises Caicedo.

But the visitors grew into the game and, shortly after travelling fans celebrated United falling behind at Selhurst Park, took the lead five minutes before the break with their first attempt on target.

Antonio did the damage, outmuscling Lewis Dunk on the edge of the Seagulls’ penalty area following Vladimir Coufal’s throw-in before rifling a stunning left-footed effort into the top left corner.

Brighton boss Graham Potter reacted to the half-time deficit by bringing on striker Neal Maupay in place of midfielder Yves Bissouma.

The attacking alteration had the desired impact as the hosts equalised just five minutes later, aided by a blunder from Hammers goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.

Gross crossed from the left and, after being teed up by Solly March, Dutch defender Veltman drilled a low effort which squirmed beyond Fabianski to claim his first goal of the season.

Brighton continued to have the better of the game. After Welbeck and Webster each flashed efforts narrowly off target, Gross gave them a deserved lead 10 minutes from time.

The creative German midfielder, who is out of contract in the summer but expected to agree a new deal, turned just inside the Hammers box before lashing a left-footed effort beyond Fabianski and high into the net.

Moyes responded by bringing on long-serving club captain Mark Noble for his final appearance before retirement, as well as Ukraine forward Andriy Yarmolenko.

Yet Albion remained the more threatening and should have put the result beyond doubt when the unmarked Welbeck – who, like Gross, is poised to sign a contract extension – headed straight at Fabianski late on.

The former England forward shrugged off that miss in added time, powerfully nodding in Gross’ corner to secure a positive end to a memorable season for the Seagulls, while leaving the visitors with plenty of regrets ahead of their short journey home to the capital.

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Manchester United’s players were subjected to chants of “you’re not fit to wear the shirt” from their own fans as their faint hopes of Champions League qualification were extinguished by a 4-0 thumping at Brighton.

Goals from Moises Caicedo, Marc Cucurella, Pascal Gross and Leandro Trossard humiliated United and ensured they will finish with their lowest points tally of the Premier League era.

Protesting travelling supporters once again took aim at the club’s ownership, in addition to their outclassed and outfought team, on a remarkable and chastening evening in front of record crowd of 31,637 at the Amex Stadium.

Ralf Rangnick’s sixth-placed side were second best for the duration and can now only accumulate a maximum total of 61 points this term – three fewer than they managed in 2013-14, which began under David Moyes and finished with the caretaker management of Ryan Giggs.

United’s performance was arguably their worst of a miserable season – which has featured 11 defeats – to highlight the extent of the job facing incoming manager Erik ten Hag

A stunning victory for rampant Brighton was a first in nine games on home soil, dating back to Boxing Day, to boost their hopes of a first Premier League top-half finish.

United were bullied from the outset and it did not take long for chants against the club’s owners to emerge from the travelling support.

Cries of ‘love United, hate Glazers’ and ‘we want Glazers out’ rang out in the early exchanges amid a blistering start from Brighton.

Albion then took a deserved 15th-minute lead to further dampen the mood among the disillusioned away end.

Ecuador midfielder Caicedo made the breakthrough, firing through the legs of Victor Lindelof and into the bottom left corner from distance to claim his first Seagulls goal after Gross’ initial effort was blocked by Alex Telles.

Brighton’s boisterous fans created a carnival atmosphere and were clearly determined to enjoy the penultimate home game of their club’s finest Premier League season.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s maiden appearance at the stadium brought a mixture of awe and derision from the majority in attendance.

The Portuguese star – who repeatedly attracted both camera phones and jeers – barely had a sniff in the opening period and suffered a whack from Joel Veltman for his troubles. He later fired well over from a free-kick, before being booked for a sliding challenge on Lewis Dunk.

Impressive Albion should have doubled their lead three minutes before the break.

Raphael Varane made a complete mess of Robert Sanchez’s long kick forward but former United forward Danny Welbeck squandered a golden chance by lobbing over with only David De Gea to beat.

Interim boss Rangnick reacted to a dismal opening 45 minutes by introducing Fred and Edinson Cavani.

However, things swiftly went from bad to worse for the visitors.

Left-back Cucurella joined Caicedo in claiming his first Albion goal, doubling the hosts’ lead by sweeping into the roof of the net after Trossard pulled the ball back from the left.

German midfielder Gross expertly slipped the ball beyond De Gea in the 57th minute before Trossard bundled home from close range just three minutes later after Diogo Dalot cleared Welbeck’s initial dinked effort off the line.

A brief interlude as VAR checked Trossard’s goal for a possible handball gave United’s followers chance to vocally question the commitment of their side.

It could have been even worse for the away side as Alexis Mac Allister hit a post as he and Gross attempted to walk the ball in.

To their credit, United’s players showed increased fight in the closing stages and threatened to reduce the deficit.

Albion goalkeeper Sanchez saved well from Cavani and Bruno Fernandes. The Spaniard also kept out United substitute Harry Maguire, with Cavani’s subsequent tap-in ruled out for offside.

Confirmation of the record crowd further increased the noise inside the ground, with United’s supporters showing their sense of humour by chanting ‘you’ve only come to see Ronaldo’ ahead of a long, despondent journey home.

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James Ward-Prowse produced a pair of stunning strikes as Southampton battled back from two goals down to claim a thrilling 2-2 Premier League draw at mid-table rivals Brighton.

Saints skipper Ward-Prowse expertly curled home the 14th top-flight free-kick goal of his career just before the break before lashing his team level early in the second period.

Danny Welbeck’s early close-range finish and an own goal from Mohammed Salisu looked to have set Albion on course for an overdue first home win since Boxing Day – but they could not hold on.

Substitute Pascal Gross thought he had restored the Seagulls’ lead late on before his low strike from range was disallowed for him being marginally offside in the build up.

A memorable comeback for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s visitors was slightly overshadowed by Tino Livramento – who hit the woodwork at 1-0 – being carried off on a stretcher in the 37th minute after twisting awkwardly.

Both sides retain hopes of top-half finishes and, while this result does little to significantly boost either in that regard, Saints will undoubtedly be the happier.

They sit a point and two positions below their 11th-placed hosts following the crucial contribution of influential England midfielder Ward-Prowse.

Brighton had drawn three and lost four at the Amex Stadium since beating Brentford in late December, failing to score in their last five outings in front of their own fans.

Defender Adam Webster made his first start in more than two months and forwards Leandro Trossard and Neal Maupay were recalled in a bid to snap that poor run, while Saints’ six changes included a rare outing for Shane Long.

Albion made a blistering start and swiftly ended a home goal drought dating back to the 1-1 draw with Chelsea on January 18, inside 76 seconds.

Saints goalkeeper Fraser Forster failed to gather Marc Cucurella’s low cross from the left as Enock Mwepu challenged for the ball, leaving Welbeck with the simple task of stabbing into the empty net.

Southampton’s woeful start was a continuation of Thursday’s dismal 2-0 defeat at relegation-threatened Burnley.

But they were almost level with 13 minutes on the clock.

Livramento’s deflected strike from just outside the 18-yard box rebounded off the left post and then struck Seagulls goalkeeper Robert Sanchez, with Che Adams narrowly unable to turn home the loose ball.

The open, end-to-end action continued and Maupay had a header disallowed for offside in the 18th minute.

Saints then lost defender Livramento to a nasty-looking injury.

The England Under-21 international went down in clear discomfort as he attempted to challenge Mwepu and was treated on the pitch for around four minutes before being carried off to be replaced by Romain Perraud.

Forster superbly denied Welbeck his second from close range before the Seagulls doubled their advantage in the 44th minute thanks to a gift from Salisu.

Trossard attempted to thread a pass through to Welbeck and Saints’ Ghanaian defender clumsily diverted the ball into his own goal via the left post.

Daylight did not last long for the hosts as Ward-Prowse halved the deficit in the fourth of five minutes added on following Livramento’s premature departure.

The Saints skipper whipped a trademark set-piece through the Brighton wall and beyond the dive of Sanchez, with the ball going in off the left upright.

That timely goal changed the complexion of the contest going into the interval and the visitors were level nine minutes after the restart.

Ward-Prowse again did the damage, emphatically drilling the ball into the bottom-left corner from the edge of the D to claim his ninth league goal this term after being teed up by Oriol Romeu.

Southampton had the better of the second period but could not find a third.

They also survived a scare when Brighton midfielder Gross was denied a winner by an offside flag 11 minutes from time.

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Aaron Ramsdale admits Arsenal were “not good enough” as they slipped to defeat at home to Brighton.

Enock Mwepu was the star of the show for the visitors, creating Leandro Trossard’s opener before his own fine strike doubled the lead. Martin Odegaard’s late consolation meant Brighton left with a deserved 2-1 win.

Arsenal were already reeling from defeat at Crystal Palace on Monday night and, with Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey missing through injury, their small squad was exposed once more.

Gabriel Martinelli had a goal ruled out for offside but other than that Arsenal rarely threatened and they lost more ground in their hopes of returning to Champions League action.

Rivals Tottenham cantered to victory later on Saturday to move three points clear in fourth place with Ramsdale now targeting a return to form at Southampton next week.

“This was supposed to be the reaction game but it wasn’t,” he told Arsenal’s official website.

“We’ve lost and not managed to pick up any points and next week is even bigger.

“I think we just need to go out there and be free and play our game, you know?

“It’s a game of football and I think in the first half we were very tense and slow so we just need to go out there next week, trust what the manager and the coaching staff are saying and go and play our football, which we’ve done all season.

“It’s not good enough. Two games on the spin where the first 45 minutes has got away from us.

“You make it an uphill battle against any team in the Premier League if you’re losing at half-time.”

The victory was just a third league win of the calendar year for Brighton.

The Seagulls ended a run of six losses with a home draw to Norwich before taking all three points from the Emirates Stadium.

“I am so glad, we needed the three points after six loses and a draw,” said Mwepu.

“I think we have shown that we have the right mentality in the group to come to places like Arsenal and play like we did.

“We just want to continue in the final games like this, play well and win for the coach, who has shown a lot of confidence in us.

“We had a little joke in the dressing room before the game that I was going to score. I was delighted to take the chance, I hit it really well and it was wonderful to see it go into the net.”

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Harry Kane created a slice of Premier League history as he helped Tottenham to a 2-0 win at free-falling Brighton.

After Cristian Romero had put Spurs in front before the break, Kane entered the record books just before the hour by scoring his 95th goal away from home – more than any other player.

He also moved above Frank Lampard in the list of all-time scorers, going into fifth with 178 goals and more records are surely around the corner given the England’s captain devastating prowess.

It was his seventh strike in six Premier League games and helped keep Spurs in the race for the top four, though they remain big outsiders as they are still behind Arsenal, who have two games in hand.

Brighton played well in patches but their slide continued as this was a sixth successive defeat and the game against Norwich takes on extra significance ahead of a trio of away matches against Arsenal, Spurs and Manchester City.

They have probably already amassed enough points to avoid getting dragged into a relegation fight, but their form will be a concern for Graham Potter.

Spurs had an early opportunity to take control of the match but Kane was uncharacteristically wasteful after creating his own chance.

He blocked Robert Sanchez’s attempted clearance after the goalkeeper was caught dawdling in possession and the ball ran free, but Kane could not convert into an open goal from an acute angle.

Brighton came into the game and Alexis Mac Allister had a shot blocked as Spurs were penned back.

But the visitors forged ahead in the 37th minute, though needed a large slice of luck.

Son Heung-min fed Dejan Kulusevski on the edge of the area and the Swede’s shot took a heavy deflection off team-mate Romero, wrongfooting Sanchez and heading into the bottom corner.

It should have been 2-0 moments later as Shane Duffy messed up a header, allowing Kulusevski to race through on goal, but he shot straight at the legs of Sanchez and Brighton survived.

Brighton started the second half searching for a response, but Spurs killed the game just before the hour with a devastating counter attack.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg won the ball on the edge of his own area, fed Rodrigo Bentancur, who drove forward before playing a superb ball for Kane to finish in typical style.

Kane’s creativity is just as big a part as his goalscoring and he should have had an assist in the 72nd minute as his inch-perfect pass set Sergio Reguilon clear, but the Spanish wing-back shot straight at Sanchez.

A Brighton goal could have made the last 15 minutes nervy for Spurs and they went close as Marc Cucurella fizzed an effort just wide of the post, while Ben Davies produced a fine last-ditch tackle.

Kane could have put the icing on the cake at the death but Sanchez was equal to his shot from the edge of the area as Antonio Conte’s men eased to the three points.

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Mohamed Salah scored Liverpool’s 2,000th Premier League goal as they battled to a 2-0 win at Brighton & Hove Albion that closed the gap on leaders Manchester City to three points.

Luis Diaz put Liverpool in front on 19 minutes, bravely heading in a superb pass from Joel Matip, February’s EA SPORTS Player of the Month, before colliding with goalkeeper Robert Sanchez.

Liverpool struggled to break Brighton down until Salah doubled their lead from the penalty spot on 61 minutes as the Egyptian punished a handball by Yves Bissouma.

It was Salah’s 20th Premier League goal of the season and made Liverpool the second team to reach 2,000 in the competition after Manchester United.

Salah then went off with an injury but, although Alisson denied Brighton substitutes Danny Welbeck and Solly March late on, Liverpool had done enough to secure an eighth successive league victory, moving them on to 66 points.

A fifth league defeat in a row leaves Brighton 13th on 33 points.

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Wout Weghorst scored his first goal for Burnley and created another as Sean Dyche’s side earned an impressive 3-0 win at Brighton & Hove Albion to move off the bottom of the table.

Connor Roberts came close to breaking the deadlock for Burnley on 10 minutes but, after spotting goalkeeper Robert Sanchez off his line, his effort came back off the crossbar.

January signing Weghorst opened his account for the club on 21 minutes, firing in superbly from the edge of the area.

The Dutchman then turned provider five minutes before the break, flicking on a long ball to Josh Brownhill, whose shot took two deflections before going in for his first Premier League goal in 63 appearances.

Aaron Lennon added a wonderful third on 69 minutes when he rifled a powerful shot into the top corner.

Their second win of the campaign takes Burnley up to 19th on 17 points, five from safety with two matches in hand.

Brighton lie ninth with 33 points.

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Manchester United have been charged by the Football Association for their reaction to Brighton captain Lewis Dunk’s challenge on Anthony Elanga.

The Red Devils won Tuesday’s Premier League meeting 2-0 thanks to goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes on a night when the visitors were reduced to 10 men early in the second half.

Dunk was initially booked for bringing down Elanga, only for it to be upgraded to a red after referee Peter Bankes was advised to check the pitchside monitor by video assistant referee Jarred Gillett.

The official was harangued by United players following the initial incident and the FA has now charged the club.

“Manchester United FC has been charged with a breach of FA Rule E.20.1 following its Premier League game against Brighton & Hove Albion FC on Tuesday [15/2/22],” a statement from the governing body read.

“It is alleged that Manchester United FC failed to ensure its players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion during the 53rd minute, and the club has until Monday [21/2/22] to provide a response.”

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Cristiano Ronaldo ended his six-game goal drought on Tuesday as Manchester United recovered from an insipid first-half display to beat 10-man Brighton 2-0 and clamber back into the Premier League top four. The match dramatically changed complexion early in the second half, with Ronaldo scoring his first goal in 2022 before Lewis Dunk was sent off three minutes later.

But the home side still managed to make heavy weather of the situation, wasting a number of great chances to double their lead until Bruno Fernandes sealed the points deep into stoppage time. Ralf Rangnick’s team had blown half-time leads to draw 1-1 in their previous three matches in all competitions, dropping crucial points in the league and exiting the FA Cup on penalties.

In his pre-match interviews, United’s interim manager had spoken about how he wanted his team to be more like Dr Jekyll and less like his literary evil alter ego Mr Hyde.

The German said after the match he had seen both sides of his team, who have struggled to find consistency and fluency under his stewardship.

“First half was Mr Hyde, second half Dr Jekyll and for a change it (the result) was different,” he said. “In the end it was important to get the three points against an in-form team.”

Rangnick praised 37-year-old Ronaldo, who returned to the scoresheet for the first time since December 30.

“Very important not only that he scored but it was an outstanding goal,” he said. “It was important for all of us, but his overall performance was one of the best since I arrived here.”

Forward Anthony Elanga and midfielder Fred came into United’s starting line-up for Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba, with defender Raphael Varane also missing out due to illness.

Jadon Sancho was denied early on but the hosts created precious little as mid-table Brighton controlled the game, enjoying nearly 60 percent of possession in the first half.

David de Gea was forced to make a spectacular save to keep out a Jakub Moder header and the half-time whistle drew boos from a frustrated home crowd, with United fortunate to be level at 0-0.

The home side took the lead in the 51st minute when Scott McTominay found Ronaldo, who darted forwards, cutting past Adam Webster and firing beyond goalkeeper Robert Sanchez from the edge of the box.

It was the Portugal forward’s 15th goal since he returned to United from Juventus in August.

Things got dramatically better for United minutes later as Elanga’s pace caught out Dunk, who brought down the teenager.

Things got dramatically better for United minutes later as Elanga’s pace caught out Dunk, who brought down the teenager.

Referee Peter Bankes showed a yellow card to the Brighton captain, only to change it to red after reviewing the foul on the advice of the video assistant referee.

United were now on top but they failed to kill off the game despite their man advantage.

They almost paid for their profligacy when Moder beat De Gea but he saw his shot cannon back off the crossbar in the 78th minute and ex-United player Danny Welbeck flashed a late header high as the home fans breathed a sigh of relief.

United wrapped up the victory in the 97th minute when substitute Pogba took a quick free-kick and Fernandes collected the ball inside his own half and raced forward before firing home.

The three points lift United into the fourth Champions League qualification spot, two points ahead of West Ham and four behind third-placed Chelsea, who have a game in hand.

Arsenal, Wolves and Tottenham are also within striking distance of the top four and all have games in hand.