Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he had to rouse his team after they came from behind to defeat Brighton 2-1 on Sunday.
Danny Welbeck put Brighton ahead against his former club as the Seagulls dominated the first half at Old Trafford.
However, for the eighth time this season, Solskjaer’s men came from behind to cut the deficit on Premier League leaders Manchester City to 14 points, thanks to goals in the second half from Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood.
“We couldn’t find our groove. We required a half-time break to regroup “Solskjaer said.
“Sometimes it takes time after the international break, and then maybe the fireworks have to be lit at halftime.”
Only a massive loss by Manchester City would prevent Pep Guardiola’s men from winning a third Premier League title in four years, with the champions needing just 11 points from their final seven games.
However, Solskjaer will equal United’s highest league result since Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 by finishing second.
The victory gives United a four-point advantage over third-placed Leicester, while United has a dominant 11-point lead over fifth-placed Tottenham and Liverpool in the race to qualify for the Champions League next season.
“It doesn’t matter what everyone else does; as long as we win and earn our points, we’re second,” Solskjaer said.
“It’s a long way up (to City), but we want to keep second place.”
Brighton was left to ponder what could have been in their previous meeting this season, as United stole a 3-2 victory with a penalty awarded after the full-time whistle had been sounded.