To say the match had it all would be the understatement of the year, as goals, own goals, penalties, multiple rattlings of post and crossbar and a dramatically late video assistant referee (VAR) incident provided non-stop entertainment right up to the final whistle -- and beyond, technically speaking.
It took 40 minutes for things to really get going when Neal Maupay opened the scoring for Brighton with a chipped "Panenka" penalty, conceded by Bruno Fernandes, and the striker duly performed his trademark "cry baby" celebration.
Alas, little did he know but Maupay's cheeky gesture was about to come back and haunt him.
Brighton had already hit the United woodwork three times before finally getting their goal, and twice again after it to set a Premier League record for hitting the woodwork-- which obviously left the Seagulls frustrated and saw Leandro Trossard join Cristiano Ronaldo as co-holder of an unlikely and unwanted personal record.
3 - Leandro Trossard is the first player to hit the woodwork three times in a Premier League match since Cristiano Ronaldo vs Newcastle United in October 2006. Postman. #BHAMUN pic.twitter.com/RMLTquZDNa— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 26, 2020
The game ebbed and flowed until it looked like Solly March's 95th minute equaliser was going to seal a 2-2 draw in the grandstand finish to a pulsating encounter that had already been laced with drama.
However, the truly incredible twist came right at the end as United somehow found time to grab a winning goal in the 100th minute of play.
Referee Chris Kavanagh blew the final whistle after March had blocked goal-bound effort on the line as United had a late, late corner, only for VAR to ask him to review a replay on the ptichside monitor. After doing so, Kavanagh awarded a penalty for a handball by Maupay off Harry Maguire's header.
As is his forte, Fernandes kept his composure to step up and convert the controversial spot kick to snatch a 3-2 win for United in unprecedented fashion. Even United themselves couldn't believe they'd managed to escape with all three points, and were rendered (almost) speechless on social media.
Indeed, Fernandes' penalty was the latest goal scored in a Premier League game for almost a decade.
Fernandes' goal was the last kick of the game but, given the nature of United's winner, some observers simply refused to believe the game was actually over as they held out hope for another equaliser from Brighton.
Breaking news: Brighton have just been awarded a penalty & have a chance for 3-3...— Craig Hope (@CraigHope_DM) September 26, 2020
As confused as most onlookers were, referee Kavanagh was following VAR protocol correctly by going back to address the incident despite having sounded the full-time whistle.
According to IFAB's official VAR handbook (rule 8.13), if the VAR identifies a serious match-changing incident after the referee has blown for half-time or full-time, they should alert the referee to review the incident.
The referee can still take action as long as the officials have not left the field of play. The referee must also immediately stop the players from leaving the pitch while the normal VAR check takes place.
Kavanagh may have got it spot on with his officiating of the incident, but that didn't prevent thousands of confused fans around the world receiving a flurry of automated alerts and push notifications that appeared to show the match ending at 2-2, only for Fernandes to then still somehow manage to score the winner.
It was also too much for poor old Maupay to bear, with the Brighton striker left distraught after seeing his side somehow end the afternoon empty-handed -- inadvertently replicating his "cry baby" pose from earlier. in what was as close as a football match can come to a post-credits scene in a Marvel movie.
Always fun when you think it's finished but then they sneak a little extra scene at the end. pic.twitter.com/4AosqNh1Uu— Jonny Sharples (@JonnyGabriel) September 26, 2020
Of course, the "Fergie Time" jokes were rife with many joking that United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had obviously succeeded in taking his former manager's knack of hanging on for late, late goals and improving the infamous Sir Alex Ferguson formula.
Solskjær not just learning from his master's trademark concept of "Fergie time", but improving on it. Elite manager.— Kristian (@vonstrenginho) September 26, 2020
In fact, the game was so exciting even Solskjaer's postmatch interview backdrop was blown away by the end of it.
Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1929)— Darren Richman (@darrenrichman) September 26, 2020
(dir. Buster Keaton) pic.twitter.com/pqcTgSKC7d
All in all, it was an unforgettable contest on the south coast. Both sets of players deserve a nice long break before their next game, which is *checks notes* Brighton vs. Manchester United in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday!
You can stream that match LIVE at 2:45 p.m. on ESPN+ in the U.S.. After Saturday's exploits at the Amex, dare anyone miss the rematch?