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Iconic Meetings: Brighton vs Manchester United

Ahead of Brighton’s FA Cup clash with Manchester United in the capital, The Woodwork looks back at some of the best meetings between the two sides:

1983 FA Cup Final: Brighton 2-2 Manchester United

With Brighton facing Manchester United at Wembley, it makes sense to start off with their last meeting at the national stadium. The 1982/83 league campaign had been a disappointing one for Jimmy Melia’s men, with the Seagulls finishing at the foot of the table, ending a four-season spell in the top- flight. Despite this, Brighton were granted a chance to redeem themselves as they travelled to Wembley for the club’s first ever FA Cup Final, a game which could have seen them become the first team to be relegated and win the cup in the same season. After a dramatic 90 minutes, in which Brighton would take the lead, fall behind and then equalise, the encounter entered extra time. In this period, Brighton’s first half goal scorer, Gordon Smith, would be presented with a golden opportunity to seal one of the most iconic victories in the history of the competition. Instead, he played a part in creating one of the most iconic lines of commentary, with his late miss being accompanied by the infamous ‘and Smith must score’. With the game ending all square, the two sides were required to meet again five days later. On this occasion, Manchester United would wipe the floor with their opponents, hitting Melia’s men for four on their return to the capital. Despite the disappointment of the replay, the original meeting acted as inspiration for supporters of the Albion, proving that their side could reach the dizzy heights of an FA Cup Final.

May 2018: Brighton 1-0 Manchester United

After a three-decade exodus from the top- flight, Brighton were back amongst the big boys. Under the leadership of Chris Houghton, the Seagulls found themselves sitting fairly comfortably above the drop zone, and by early May the Albion were able to secure safety with just one more victory. However, the task at hand was not an easy one. In order to ensure their spot for the following season Brighton would have to defeat 2nd-placed Manchester United, a side which had already defeated them twice in all competitions that season. Alongside this, Houghton’s players knew that failure to secure three points would mean they required positive results in their final two games against Manchester City and Liverpool, rendering their clash with the red devils all the more important. Despite the early apprehension, the Albion were able to put Mourinho’s men to the test, and with just over half an hour remaining Pascal Gross would score the only goal of the game as he guided the south coast side to victory. The victory was, at the time, Brighton’s second against Manchester United in the club’s history, having only defeated the red devils once prior to this particular encounter. With safety secured for another season, supporters of the Seagulls could look ahead to another year of top- flight football, highlighting the end of an era in which the Premier League appeared unthinkable.

August 2022: Manchester United 1-2 Brighton

If you’re a Brighton supporter, you’d be forgiven for feeling somewhat intimidated ahead of the opening fixture of the 2022/23 Premier League campaign. The Seagulls said goodbye to some key figures in the summer transfer window, with Yves Bissouma and Marc Cucurella departing to Tottenham and Chelsea respectively. In addition, the Albion would have to be the first side to face Erik Tan Hag in the Premier League, a highly respected manager given his efforts with Ajax. Ahead of their Super Sunday clash in the North- West, the vast majority of pre match build-up focused on Ten Hag and the idea of a ‘new era’ at Old Trafford, perhaps writing off Graham Potter’s plucky Brighton side before a ball was kicked. However, in similar fashion to their meeting with Manchester United in May 2018, the Albion were able to see off any early apprehension with a stellar performance. Ironically, it was Pascal Gross who found himself on the scoresheet once again, on this occasion scoring twice in a game which saw him reignite the form of that famous Friday evening in 2018. The goals from Gross ensured that the south coast side would start the 2022/23 campaign with a win, in turn providing Brighton with their first ever victory at Old Trafford. Eight months and one manager later, the Albion have evidently built on that opening day victory, with Roberto De Zerbi’s side currently on course for a record-breaking campaign.

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