Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag believes a switch in the second half helped the Reds, even if Brighton & Hove Albion still ran out 2-1 victors at Old Trafford.

The Seagulls were two goals to the good by half-time, courtesy of a double strike by Pascal Gross, but Cristiano Ronaldo’s introduction during the second period enabled Eriksen to depart a false-nine role, and revert to a deeper playmaking position.

It meant the Dane was able to stick to the areas where we are more accustomed to seeing him, and he helped spark attacks with his probing passing.

Anthony Martial’s injury and the fact Ronaldo was not fit enough to start after only one half of football in pre-season led to Eriksen pushing into attack but the Reds’ only real chance of note in the opening 45 minutes was a Bruno Fernandes shot that flew over the top from a promising position.

An own-goal by Alexis Mac Allister, after a lengthy VAR wait, did halve the deficit but there was to be no barnstorming comeback on this occasion, with the Seagulls able to effectively see out the five minutes of injury time.

Speaking to Sky Sports afterwards, Ten Hag felt a couple of missed chances by Marcus Rashford hurt United’s bid to get back into the game but did acknowledge the tactical change was of some benefit.

“It is clear to see, in the second half, we were better in midfield with Eriksen down and Ronaldo up,” he said.

“We created and Rashford had two good chances. It is a shame we did not score [then].”