It was a big call by Manchester United caretaker boss Michael Carrick to start Bruno Fernandes on the bench against Villarreal.
United’s number 18 came on with 25 minutes to go alongside Marcus Rashford to help his side to a crucial 2-0 victory at the El Madrigal, which meant we qualified for the Champions League last-16 as Group F winners.
Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring to maintain his record of scoring in every Champions League game this season. It was also his 799th career goal.
The 36-year-old also became the first player to score in five consecutive matches for an English team in a single season in the European Cup/Champions League.
Similar to his compatriot, Fernandes had his own Champions League record to maintain after providing an assist in all four of our previous Group F matches.
With the game entering its dying stages and the Yellow Submarine throwing caution to the wind, in the hunt for an equaliser, United picked them off and Fernandes laid the ball off to Jadon Sancho.
United’s number 25 smashed the ball home via the crossbar to score his first goal for the club.
That assist from the former Sporting Lisbon captain means he has registered the same number of assists (6) as Ronaldo has goals in the world’s best club competition.
Immediate impact from Fernandes
Despite being on the bench for only the second time this season, Fernandes showed no signs of sulking and was eager to get on the ball and have an immediate influence on the game.
In the time he was on the pitch, the 27-year-old had 27 touches and had a pass completion rate of 87%, which included four successful long balls.
Alongside his assist for Sancho, Fernandes played a perfectly weighted through ball into the path of Rashford, but the England international was unable to convert.
Fernandes continues to match Ronaldo’s Champions League exploits and we are yet to score a goal in the European competition, which hasn’t involved either of the Portuguese pair.
Fernandes will hope his impressive cameo brings a recall to the starting line-up for the trip to the Premier League leaders Chelsea on Sunday.
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