Brighton 1 Manchester United 0: Pascal Gross strikes to seal Premier League survival against abject Reds

But as Manchester United’s scowling manager sunk down into his padded chair in the away team dugout he must surely be aware that this time it was him that blew it.

On the last occasion United played this badly they lost 1-0 at West Bromwich Albion, the worst team in the Premier League.

A few days later the ruthless Portuguese swung the axe and chopped seven of his flops to prick a response down at Bournemouth.

But last night it was his decision to leave six players out of the starting line up as he prioritises the FA Cup final in a few weeks – mindful that it is his only hope of a trophy this season.

There’s nothing wrong with that, as long those left behind don’t take it as the green light to down tools and let a team which hasn’t won for seven matches embarrass you live on TV.

The fact that Brighton needed goal-line technology to confirm the victory that means they will be staying up does not mean they were lucky.

Albion ran Mourinho’s men ragged. It was United who were lucky – lucky that at least keeper David de Gea turned up for his shift and made two stunning saves to keep out ferocious shots from Glenn Murray and Jose Izquierdo or it would have been a lot worse.

Worst culprit was Marcus Rashford, handed an opportunity to answer his manager’s lingering doubts about his abilities as a deadly finisher.

With no Alexis Sanchez or Romelu Lukaku because of injuries, the kid who looked a world beater two years ago has only two Premier League goals to his name in 2018.

And he missed a golden opportunity to make it three with a nightmare moment that will haunt him for a long time.

The kid who burst onto the scene a couple of years ago with his outrageous confidence and fearlessness, who went to Euro 2016 as a precocious teenager, lost it in one split second of indecision.

It was as if he was spoilt for choice when Brighton defender Lewis Dunk’s first touch let him down badly on the edge of the box. The ball slid invitingly along the turf to Rashford like a slowly rolling white ball in a snooker match.

But instead of pressing the turbo button and accelerating into the six yard kill zone, he dithered and dallied, the arrival of Anthony Martial only confusing him more.

Rashford bumbled along confused, finally surrendering possession to Gaeten Bong to smash the ball out for a corner.

Mourinho showed his contempt with a resigned shrug but the matter wasn’t forgotten.

When Rashford fell back for defensive duties at the halfway line, his manager was waiting and dished out a public ear-bashing as only he does.

The overriding problem is that for all Mourinho’s attitude he is fighting to finish second, behind Manchester City.

And with Liverpool getting ready for the Champions League final at the end of the month, Mourinho is not even getting much attention in the north west of England, let alone on planet football.

The only talking point about United is how disjointed they were. De Gea was the only member of the team to emerge with any credit.

Expect a reaction at West Ham on Thursday when Mourinho will turn up still with the hump even though last night’s downfall was very much his own doing.

He said before the match that his team only needs four points to finish second. They still do but Brighton are home and hosed, established back in the top flight after promotion last season.

Albion had not won since beating Arsenal 2-1 in early March. This victory is an even bigger surprise but thoroughly deserved.

They got their bit of luck when the tricky Jose Izquierdo got a handy rebound off the legs of the ineffective Matteo Darmian on a sprint into the box.

But the nippy winger needed good judgement to deliver a cross into the middle of the six yard box where lumpy Pascal Gross bulldozed his way through and powered a header towards goal.

Marcos Rojo, making his first start since February, hooked the ball off the line but seconds later ref Craig Pawson’s watch buzzed to let him know the ball had actually crossed the line by a couple of centimetres.

Brighton can now rest easy and for Manchester United it is still all eyes on Wembley but for Rashford these are uneasy times.

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