Belfast Telegraph

Manchester United have quality to land top four spot, insists Matic

Manchester United 2 Brighton & Hove Albion 1

Midfield man: Nemanja Matic is enjoying United’s revival
Midfield man: Nemanja Matic is enjoying United’s revival

By Simon Peach

Nemanja Matic has his sights trained on the top four after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's record-breaking start turned the improbable into the possible for Manchester United.

The Old Trafford giants were in a tailspin when Jose Mourinho was sacked last month, with defeat at leaders Liverpool leaving them 19 points off the top and 11 behind the Champions League places.

Caretaker manager Solskjaer has swiftly overseen a change in fortunes, with Saturday's 2-1 win against Brighton continuing his perfect start in a club-record sixth-straight league victory.

United are now just three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea and Matic is determined to overtake his former club and Arsenal in the Premier League standings.

"In the Premier League, it's always hard," the defensive midfielder said after digging deep to prevent Brighton grabbing an equaliser.

"You cannot be sure you are always in control, especially against this team - they are very strong at set pieces, they have two big guys on that, and they try to use them.

"I'm happy for one more win, happy for our team and our supporters. We will try to give our best to reach the top four until the end of the season.

"The teams in front of us have quality, they will also try to play in the Champions League next season. But I'm sure that we have enough qualities to compete with them."

There is certainly a feel-good factor around Old Trafford again, with fan favourite Solskjaer getting the side smiling and playing with a swagger.

"I think this is the best what can happen to him, to us," Matic said. "Seven games, seven wins. I think that everyone needs to be happy."

Paul Pogba continued his resurgence under the Norwegian by scoring the penalty he won against Albion, before Marcus Rashford continued his exquisite form with a superb turn and strike late in the first half.

The England international was named man of the match on his 150th appearance for United, having scored in a fourth-successive Premier League match in an all-action display.

"Marcus is very important for the team," Matic said. "When he's in good form, he's one of the best players in the league and he scored a great goal."

United had the opportunities to put the game out of sight before Pascal Gross struck to cause a nervy conclusion.

The Brighton midfielder said: "There were two decisions in the first half where we didn't defend well enough, but we showed great character in the second half.

"Manchester United can score goals with the quality they have, and we perhaps made it easier for them with the goals we gave away."

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