Bereft of top scorer Romelu Lukaku, an abject Manchester United side slipped to a 1-0 defeat against Brighton & Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium, with the Seagulls reaching the magical 40-point mark in the process.
As the burly Belgian nursed an ankle injury, Jose Mourinho gave Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford a chance to impress but the vaunted attack duo did anything but as a Pascal Gross header proved to be the difference between the two sides on Friday night.
Apart from the aforementioned Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez, United fielded a very strong XI, with last-week’s hero Marouane Fellaini starting in midfield at the expense of Ander Herrera while Mourinho rotated some members of his defence.
Brighton started the tie brightly and very nearly took the lead via Glenn Murray as the forward let loose a dipping volley from distance but David de Gea was equal to the task and the Spaniard made a smart save to keep the scores level.
United would have a real chance of their own soon after, when Rashford robbed a Brighton defender in the box but despite having Martial alongside him, dallied instead of squaring and the chance went up in smoke.
Jose Izqueirdo would force de Gea into another fine save before the interval as the teams headed into the dressing rooms deadlocked.
The second-half began with Brighton showing more urgency and the Seagulls were rewarded for their efforts when Pascal Gross arrived into the box at the right time to head home in the 57th minute.
Marcos Rojo looked to have cleared it off the line, but match referee Craig Pawson signalled for a goal after getting a confirmation from the goal-line technology available at his disposal.
Mourinho responded by sending on Luke Shaw and Jesse Lingard and while the latter would have a real chance at levelling the tie, he couldn’t hit the target as United slumped to their seventh loss of the season.
Their place in next year’s UEFA Champions League has already been secured and they still remain on course to finish second, but their latest setback will have fans crimson with rage as the curtain comes down on what has been a disappointing league campaign.