Van de Beek was a late replacement for Edinson Cavani but still managed to make an impact.
Manchester United picked up where they had left off prior to the international break as they came from a goal behind to beat Brighton 2-1 at Old Trafford on Sunday evening.
United left themselves with an uphill task in the second half after Danny Welbeck’s early opener for the Seagulls.
However, after receiving an angry wake-up call from boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at half time, the United players turned the game on its head with goals from Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood.
🎥 A belated Easter treat: the best bits from Sunday’s comeback win over Brighton! ⬇
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) April 4, 2021
The result moves United four points clear of third-placed Leicester City with the Red Devils now looking a strong bet to secure second behind runaway leaders Manchester City.
Greenwood’s winner arrived seven minutes from time as the 19-year-old connected with Paul Pogba’s stabbed cross, his header beating both goalkeeper Robert Sanchez and defender Ben White on the Brighton line.
And while Greenwood deservedly attracted most of the plaudits after scoring his first league goal since December, Ian Wright was impressed with Donny van de Beek’s subtle role in United’s winner.
Van de Beek, who has endured a difficult first season in England following his move from Ajax, replaced Edinson Cavani in the 82nd-minute against Brighton and was immediately involved as United sealed all three points.
While it would have been easy to miss, Van de Beek made an intelligent run out to the left wing with Luke Shaw in possession.
Not only did it offer another option for Shaw, but it created space for Bruno Fernandes, who darted between Yves Bisouma and Lewis Dunk before finding Pogba in the box.
“This is brilliant from Donny van de Beek and this is what he’s about,” Wright said on Match of the Day 2.
“He’s come from a possession-based academy, that’s what he does. He makes movement.
“It’s great movement and leaves the space open to Bruno Fernandes. It’s a great ball too from Luke Shaw who, for me, was easily the man of the match for Manchester United.
“So in the end, United’s quality came through.”