January 19, 2021

Why Fernandes let Rashford take penalty

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Bruno Fernandes explained why he gave up the chance of a hat-trick in Manchester United’s 4-1 win over Istanbul Basaksehir, as manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted he was happy for his players to “share the penalties around”.

Fernandes had opened the scoring in the Champions League clash with a stunner in the seventh minute, before converting from close range with just 19 minutes gone.

The Portuguese was then handed the opportunity to complete his hat-trick from the penalty spot after Rashford was bundled over inside the box by Boli Bolingoli – but despite initially clutching the ball, stepped aside, allowing Rashford to cap an emphatic half from the hosts.

Marcus Rashford eventually dispatches the penalty to make it 3-0
Image: Marcus Rashford eventually dispatches the penalty to make it 3-0

“Of course every player wants to do a hat-trick but after the game in the Premier League, I told ‘Rashy’ the next one he would take,” Fernandes said after the game.

“I remembered that – and also because he’s one of the top scorers in the Champions League, I thought it would be important for him there to take that confidence.

He added to BT Sport: “But it doesn’t matter who takes the penalties, the most important is scoring.”

It was the 30th penalty Manchester United have been awarded in 75 games since the start of last season and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted he had no issues with his players sharing the responsibility.

Solskjaer said: “Bruno is very confident, Marcus is a very good penalty-taker as well; if Bruno feels he wants to give it to Marcus, so be it. Anthony had one against RB Leipzig so why not? They can share them around.”

Fernandes has been involved in 34 goals in 35 games in all competitions for Man Utd (21 goals, 13 assists)
Image: Fernandes has been involved in 34 goals in 35 games in all competitions for Man Utd (21 goals, 13 assists)

Asked if he ever gets surprised by the Portuguese’s contribution, Solskjaer said in his press conference: “Not really, no.

“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 the team to win and he wants the team to do well. I think it shows today that he can do more than just take penalties.”

No complacency from Solskjaer

The 4-1 triumph – capped by a late Dan James goal – means Solskjaer’s side only need a point from their final two
matches to qualify for the last 16, but next week’s home match against PSG and the trip to RB Leipzig means the manager is not getting ahead of himself.

“The group is still very open,” the Norwegian said.

“We’ve got nine, two on six points (PSG and RB Leipzig) and Basaksehir on three, so we still need points to go through.

Manchester United need just a point to qualify from Group H
Image: Manchester United need just a point to qualify from Group H

“One probably should be enough and three probably gives you the win, so hopefully against PSG we can secure the points we need but that’s another matter.

“Edinson (Cavani on his first start) and Donny (van de Beek) did really well, both of them.

“Of course I thought the whole team played really well. We found our positions and the tempo with the ball was really good.

“We deserved the win, of course, after that first half. Second half is always different and more difficult to keep the tempo when you’re winning 3-0.”

Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Victor Lindelof were substituted with problems in a move Solskjaer hopes was precautionary.

“Hopefully, they’ll be ready for the weekend but we’re not sure. It’s a back problem for Victor and Aaron had an ankle problem so there was no point risking any more swelling to it.”