Man Utd would not be in the Champions League without Fernandes contribution

Where would Manchester United be without Bruno Fernandes?

Certainly not in the Champions League, after he almost single-handedly dragged them to a top-four finish last season following his arrival in January.

The Portuguese playmaker has continued those heroics this season, taking his goal tally to nine in 13 games with two here, to nudge Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side closer to a last 16 place.

Since making his debut on February 1, Fernandes, a £47million signing from Sporting Lisbon, has been directly involved in 33 goals in 35 appearances for United, with 20 goals and 13 assists.

That is 15 more than any other United player during the same period, underlining his importance to Solskjaer’s side and why the Reds boss simply cannot afford to rest his star man at the moment.

But having masterminded the win, Fernandes was withdrawn just shy of the hour, his work done for the night and rested for what will surely be a testing trip to Southampton on Sunday.

Bruno Fernandes was again the difference for Man Utd

After losing 2-1 in Istanbul three weeks ago, Solskjaer decided that all-out attack was the way forward here, abandoning his cautious policy of playing two holding midfielders.

The result? A thrilling, front-foot display from the marauding Reds, which brought out the best in their attacking players and showed what the side is capable of when the shackles are off.

The question now is whether Solskjaer has the courage to stick with such an offensive-minded side in the Premier League or whether he reverts to his prudent approach at the weekend.

United’s exciting line-up included a rare start for summer signing Donny van de Beek and a first start for Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani, another recruit in the last transfer window.

After the prosaic display in the 1-0 win over West Brom at the weekend, there was more zip and zeal to United, Van de Beek linking well with the front four, underpinned by the energy of Fred.

The Portuguese star scored two of Man Utd’s four

Fernandes set United on their way with an unstoppable, sweeping first-time effort into the top corner for his eighth goal of the season after seven minutes.

Rashford had the ball in the back of the net minutes later, after some fine one-touch interplay between Cavani and Fernandes, but the goal was correctly ruled out for offside.

Rarely did United find themselves troubled in the first-half, but on one occasion when they did, in the 17th minute, Istanbul skipper Edin Visca scooped his effort high and wide.

Two minutes later and United doubled their lead, Istanbul keeper Mert Gunok dropping a Telles cross, Fernandes capitalising by slotting the ball into the net for his second of the night.

If the second goal from Fernandes allowed United to breathe easier and play with even more freedom, the third, which came in the 35th minute, killed the game.

Marcus Rashford got the hosts’ third from 12 yards

Victor Lindelof spotted the run of Rashford and launched a perfect ball into his path, the United forward outpacing Boli Bolingoli, who bundled him to the ground to concede a penalty.

As United’s designated penalty-taker, Fernandes had the chance to clinch his hat-trick, but selflessly allowed Rashford to take the spot-kick, which he duly dispatched for his eighth goal of the season.

With the game won, Solskjaer was able to take advantage of the five substitutes rule, but the wholesale change saw United surrender their superiority and endure a difficult spell in the second-half.

Deniz Turuc scored with a fine free-kick, while Visca thudded the bar with a shot that had De Gea beaten, as the visitors threatened to make it a nervy finale for the hosts.

But substitute Dan James made it 4-1 in added time, latching on to Mason Greenwood’s pass, to seal a deserved and impressive win.

Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button