Manchester United needed a boost after a disappointing patch of Premier League form, and as usual, it was Bruno Fernandes who provided it.
Fernandes scored twice as United sauntered to a 4-0 victory against Real Sociedad which puts the tie beyond doubt with a game to spare.
His two goals came from three shots at goal and set the tone for an easy win, with Fernandes netting United’s first and second of the match.
He still hunts for an elusive hat-trick, but one day, it’s coming.
Fernandes created three goalscoring chances, more than any player on the pitch. He was unlucky to miss out on an assist, with Marcus Rashford in particular spurning a great chance he carved out.
Any City fans hoping to see David Silva pull a fast one on United were left disappointed. He didn’t create a single chance as Fernandes put him in the shade.
Fernandes’ combative side also came into play. He made three tackles, a tally matched only by Alex Telles.
Fernandes was sharper than anybody else
The difference Fernandes made was clear to see. When United’s other players looked nervous in front of goal, he was calm and dispatched his chances without fuss.
There was nothing fortunate about his first goal; it was a piece of clever play, anticipating the movement of the defenders to duck out of the way and see the collision coming, leaving him with an easy chance.
It summed Fernandes up. He was a step ahead of the Sociedad defence all night.
His clever pass played in Scott McTominay early in the first half, while another cutting ball gave Rashford another opportunity.
When United broke Sociedad’s high line in the second half he timed his run perfectly to latch onto Dan James’ pass, stroking the ball into the bottom corner. After a VAR check, it was rightfully given. Fernandes judged his run perfectly.
Solskjaer told the club website: “If he scores two, he wants three, if he gets an assist, he wants another one. He drives everyone on, of course, sometimes he drives too much and wants to do too much.
“Tonight, he played his position really well and was in the spaces we wanted him and we can see how efficient he is.”
Fernandes may get a rest in the second leg, and it will be overdue. When it comes to the Newcastle game, he will be the first name on United’s teamsheet.
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