Brighton opened the scoring, a coolly finished Neal Maupay penalty giving the hosts the lead before Lewis Dunk put the ball into his own net to level the scores just before half-time.
Marcus Rashford’s solo goal put United on top, and Brighton thought it had snatched a dramatic late draw thanks to Solly March’s header before Fernandes’ penalty, 10 minutes after the 90-minute mark.
While it eventually secured the win, Manchester United lived on the edge, with Brighton hitting the woodwork five times during the game and had one awarded penalty overruled by video assistant referee (VAR) and another potential one waved away by the referee.
“We left so much space for them to play, we were not as aggressive, we gave away two goals” Fernandes told BT Sport after the game. “We have to do much better.
“Brighton did very well but maybe because we are not aggressive as we want. We need to recover more balls, press better, lose less possession. Maybe they deserved more. The point is score goals not hit the bar. Sometimes you have to have some luck.”
An up and down affair
After being surprised by Crystal Palace last week, Manchester United was hoping to make a more positive start on the south of England against Brighton.
But it was the home side who made the brighter sight, as with Leandro Trossard smashing the ball against David de Gea’s left post – the Belgian midfielder would go onto hit the woodwork twice more.
In the opening two games of the season, the woodwork has stopped as many shots for Manchester United’s opponents this season as goalkeeper de Gea.
“Unbelievable, the feeling I can’t describe, we were the better team today,” Trossard said. “We deserved at least a point, it’s a shame. Sometimes it’s just not your day.”
And Brighton eventually made the pressure count – only after Mason Greenwood had a goal ruled out for offside – as Maupay chipped the penalty, which was awarded for Fernandes’ foul on the exciting Tariq Lamptey, past the despairing de Gea.
It took United just three minutes to equalize though, with Dunk only able to deflect home a cross from Nemanja Matic. After half-time, Rashford’s mazy run and finish gave the Manchester side the lead.
However in the 95th minute, Brighton thought it has won a point right at the death, as March headed in a cross from Alireza Jahanbakhsh. But an even later penalty, spotted and awarded via VAR after the on-field official Chris Kavanagh had blown to signal the end of the match, was smashed into the top corner by Fernandes.
Fernandes’ goal at 99:45 minutes is the latest scored in the Premier League since Juan Mata’s strike for Chelsea against Norwich in August 2011, scored in 100:03 minutes.
The result would be even more painful for Brighton as it had a penalty of its own overturned by VAR in the second half, after Aaron Connolly was adjudged to have been fouled by Paul Pogba, only for referee Chris Kavanagh to change his mind.
“We got away with one. Maybe one point we deserved, we didn’t deserve more. But the character deserved more” Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told BT Sport.
“Last season we had too many draws, so that is a big plus for us. You have to be happy Jose is not here to measure the goal posts.
“They are a difficult team to play against. We don’t have the legs and sharpness, but we will get there. We have plenty of work ahead.”