Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hailed Bruno Fernandes after his scintillating brace inspired a 4-1 victory over Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League.
Fernandes scored twice as United routed Turkish champions Basaksehir at Old Trafford on Tuesday to remain top of Group H ahead of Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig through four matchdays.
United star Fernandes scored twice in the opening 19 minutes, including a stunning half-volley – the Portugal midfielder directly involved in 34 goals in 35 appearances (21 goals, 13 assists) since debuting in February, 16 more than any other player at the club in that period.
Of Fernandes’ goals, 12 have come from penalties in all competitions, and Solskjaer insisted there is more to the 26-year-old than spot-kicks.
“Not really, no [on whether Fernandes continues to surprise him],” Solskjaer said during his post-match news conference, after substitute Daniel James also became the first Welshman to score a Champions League goal for United since Ryan Giggs in 2011.
“Of course, we see him every day in training. We knew what we were going to get when we got Bruno to the team.
“He’s a player who likes to take risks. He likes to create chances. He likes to score goals. He’s a winner. He wants his team to win.
“He wants the team to do well. And I think it showed today that he can do more than just take penalties.”
34 – Since his debut in February, Bruno Fernandes has been directly involved in 34 goals in 35 appearances for Man Utd (21 goals, 13 assists), 16 more than any other player at the club in this period. Gift. https://t.co/XMROvKPDrh
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 24, 2020
Asked when to rest Fernandes – who passed up an opportunity to complete his hat-trick after allowing Marcus Rashford to convert a 35th-minute penalty – Solskjaer replied: “You take him off. Of course I was thinking at half-time to maybe take a couple more players off, but you don’t want to give the impression that we can just relax and the game is – we don’t take the second half seriously.
“Bruno is very important for us, if the game is won at half-time or at 60 [minutes] then it’s easy to rest him.”
New signings Edinson Cavani and Donny van de Beek, who both started in Manchester, impressed for United as Solskjaer’s men avenged their 2-1 loss to Basaksehir in Istanbul on matchday three.
Van de Beek – with Paul Pogba absent from the matchday squad for the second consecutive match – created two chances, boasted an 87.5 per cent passing accuracy and won three duels.
“Edinson and Donny did really well, both of them,” Solskjaer said. “Of course, I thought the whole team played really well. We found our positions and the tempo on the ball was really good.
“So, we deserved the win, of course, after that first half. The second half was a little bit – it’s always different and more difficult to keep the tempo up when you’re winning 3-0.”
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