Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was relieved to benefit from a winning goal “scored after the final whistle” following Manchester United’s dramatic 3-2 Premier League win at Brighton.
Bruno Fernandes converted from the penalty spot with the last kick of the game 10 minutes into added time to snatch three points for United from a crazy, incident-packed encounter.
Referee Chris Kavanagh had initially blown for full-time before awarding the spot-kick having consulted the pitchside monitor and opted to penalise Neal Maupay for handball.
United boss Solskjaer admitted his side were fortunate to avoid dropping points for the second successive match following last weekend’s shock loss to Crystal Palace and wants his players to make a habit of grabbing late goals.
The Norwegian also joked he was grateful his predecessor Jose Mourinho was not at the Amex Stadium to measure the goal posts after impressive Albion remarkably struck the woodwork five times.
“I don’t think we’ve ever scored after the final whistle, that’s right. But, of course, the handball was before full-time so it’s probably right thing to do,” said Solskjaer.
“And for us it’s a big thing. We have discussed it this season, we need more late goals.
“We were the team that lost the fewest games – apart from Liverpool – last season. But we drew too many.
“To get two extra points after conceding the equaliser so late on is a great boost for us.
“We’ve got to be honest enough to say they created the most chances, probably 50-50ish possession.
“But they had loads of shots, they had big chances. We need to improve a lot in the weeks coming forward.”
Albion looked to have secured a point they more than merited when Solly March cancelled out Marcus Rashford’s fine solo effort – which United said was the 10,000th in their history – five minutes into the additional period.
But, after players from both teams surrounded match official Kavanagh during a remarkable ending to the game, Fernandes was the calmest man in the stadium as he confidently dispatched the ball from 12 yards.
Frenchman Maupay had earlier cheekily chipped Brigthon ahead from a 40th-minute penalty – his third goal in two games – following Fernandes’ foul on Tariq Lamptey.
Lewis Dunk’s fifth Premier League own goal levelled matters just 194 seconds later, but the goals were far from the full story.
United also had two efforts disallowed for offside, while the Seagulls rattled the frame of the goal five times and had another spot-kick award overturned following a VAR review.
Former United boss Mourinho made headlines in the week by pointing out that the goal posts were too small ahead of Tottenham’s Europa League qualifying win over North Macedonian side Shkendija.
Referring to that incident in connection with Brighton’s series of near misses, Solskjaer told BT Sport: “We got away with one. Maybe one point we deserved, we didn’t deserve more.
“You have to be happy Jose is not here to measure the goal posts.”
Brighton boss Graham Potter conceded that losing a “rollercoaster” encounter in such dramatic circumstances was painful.
Leandro Trossard claimed a hat-trick of sorts by striking both posts and the crossbar, with Adam Webster and March the other men denied by the woodwork.
Potter, whose side host United again in the Carabao Cup fourth round on Wednesday, was unsure why so much additional time was played.
“It was a bit of rollercoaster, to say the least. A fantastic performance from us, we did so much well and played with real courage, real quality,” he said.
“Obviously, very, very sore to lose but we have to try and be as philosophical as we can and focus on the things we did well.
“We had such a high in terms of when we scored our equaliser because I felt we deserved that.
“The emotion at that moment, we felt we scored on the last kick.
“There couldn’t have been much time left and, I don’t know, the referees are responsible for the time, that’s their job.
“From our perspective, we are just very disappointed.”