Bruno Fernandes says he turned down the chance to score his first Manchester United hat-trick in their Champions League win over Istanbul Basaksehir to keep his word to team-mate Marcus Rashford.
After driving a half-volley into the net from the edge of the area, Fernandes put United two ahead inside 20 minutes when keeper Mert Gunok dropped a routine cross at the midfielder’s feet.
Despite scoring from the spot against West Brom three days earlier, Fernandes let Rashford take the penalty that made it 3-0 after the England forward had been sent flying by Boli Bolingoli.
“Of course every player wants a hat-trick, but after the game in the Premier League I told Rashford that he could take the next one,” Fernandes said.
“Also, he’s one of the top scorers in the Champions League so it’s important for him to get the confidence.
“It doesn’t matter who takes the penalty as long as the team scores.”
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had no problems with Fernandes handing over the penalty to Rashford.
The Norwegian told BT Sport: “Marcus is a very good penalty taker and Bruno is very confident, if Bruno wants to give it to Marcus then why not? Anthony Martial took one against Leipzig too – why not share it around?”
Tuesday’s game marked the first time United had led by three goals at half-time in a Champions League game at Old Trafford since Roma were routed 7-1 in April 2007.
The visitors pulled one back through Deniz Turuc’s curling free-kick and an Edin Visca shot that cannoned off the bar 10 minutes from time brought cries of “wake up” from United keeper David de Gea.
But there was no repeat of their shambolic defending in defeat in Turkey three weeks ago and Daniel James completed the scoring in stoppage time when he tapped home Mason Greenwood’s cross for his first goal since March – and his first on home soil in 15 months.
The win means United are top of Group H and need just a point from their remaining two group games to qualify for the knockout stage.
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Cavani upstaged by Fernandes
Edinson Cavani has waited seven weeks for his first United start since joining on a free transfer in October.
But the Uruguay forward was not the centre of attention for long. In fairness, Cavani is not alone in being upstaged by Fernandes, whose arrival in January had a transformational impact on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team.
By the time he scored his second on Tuesday, his tally in the previous 175 minutes of action stood at five. His team-mates had managed one between them in the same period. It took his involvement in United goals to 34 in 35 games since signing from Sporting Lisbon, 16 more than any other player. Little wonder the absence of Paul Pogba with an ankle injury was not the blow it once might have been.
By contrast, Cavani’s only sight of goal came in the second half when he was crowded out and his shot was eventually blocked.
England forward Greenwood was also frustrated on his return to action – he last featured in the previous game between these teams – although at least he had the consolation of helping Wales winger James end his long wait for a goal at Old Trafford.
By the end, Solskjaer’s only concerns were potential injuries to centre-back Victor Lindelof, who was replaced by Axel Tuanzebe at half-time, and right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who headed straight down the tunnel when he was taken off after an hour.
Solskjaer said: “Hopefully they’ll be ready for the weekend – it’s ankle for Aaron and back for Victor. There was no point taking any more risks.”
Still work to do for United
The emphatic nature of this game will only make United reflect on what a mess they made of the first meeting between the sides.
There was never a chance the visitors would join Fenerbahce and Besiktas in becoming a Turkish team to win in this stadium.
However, rather than securing a place in the last 16 – barring a mathematical improbability – with two games to spare, their third win in this group merely edges them further forward, and they know a draw is required against Paris St-Germain at Old Trafford next week to avoid a nervy last-day encounter at RB Leipzig.
The PSG game could turn out to be the first Champions League game in England with supporters present since March, depending on the level of restrictions Greater Manchester is placed under on Thursday.
Even before the visitors’ late flurry, United fans watching on television would have a couple of causes for concern before superstar forwards Neymar and Kylian Mbappe show up with the French champions.
First, the way Berkay Ozcan slalomed past three defenders on an early run into the box that ended with Visca firing wide, and then the space Demba Ba was afforded as he rose unchallenged, only to head disappointingly over.
Impact off the bench – the stats
- Manchester United have won their past seven home games in Europe by an aggregate score of 24-2.
- İstanbul Basaksehir have lost their past four away European matches by a combined score of 12-2.
- United have scored nine goals in their two Champions League home games this season, compared with three in five Premier League matches at Old Trafford.
- Four of the English side’s 12 Champions League goals this season have been scored by substitutes, more than any other team.
- James became the first Welshman to score in the Champions League for United since Ryan Giggs against Benfica in September 2011.
- Rashford has scored five goals in four Champions League games this season – as many as he had in his first 18 appearances in the competition.
- İstanbul Basaksehir’s Turuc became the first player to score a direct free-kick against Manchester United in the Champions League since Franck Ribery for Bayern Munich in March 2010.
Manchester United are next in action against Southampton in the Premier League at St Mary’s Stadium on Sunday (14:00 GMT kick-off).
- 1de Gea
- 29Wan-BissakaSubstituted forWilliamsat 59′minutes
- 2LindelöfSubstituted forTuanzebeat 45′minutesBooked at 55mins
- 5MaguireBooked at 86mins
- 34van de Beek
- 10RashfordSubstituted forJamesat 59′minutes
- 18Bruno FernandesSubstituted forGreenwoodat 59′minutes
- 9MartialSubstituted forMaticat 82′minutes
- 4Pereira da Silva
- 37SkrtelBooked at 78minsSubstituted fordos Santos Rodriguesat 87′minutes
- 63Bolingoli-MbomboSubstituted forKaldirimat 74′minutes
- 10ÖzcanSubstituted forde Paulaat 74′minutes
- 17KahveciSubstituted forTekdemirat 45′minutesBooked at 85mins
- 23TürüçBooked at 89mins
- 11ChadliSubstituted forGulbrandsenat 61′minutes
- 20de Paula
- 26dos Santos Rodrigues
Match ends, Manchester United 4, Istanbul Basaksehir 1.
Second Half ends, Manchester United 4, Istanbul Basaksehir 1.
Attempt saved. Mason Greenwood (Manchester United) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Donny van de Beek.
Goal! Manchester United 4, Istanbul Basaksehir 1. Daniel James (Manchester United) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Mason Greenwood.
Foul by Rafael (Istanbul Basaksehir).
Edinson Cavani (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Deniz Türüç (Istanbul Basaksehir) is shown the yellow card.
Attempt saved. Edinson Cavani (Manchester United) right footed shot from more than 35 yards is saved in the bottom right corner.
Demba Ba (Istanbul Basaksehir) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Nemanja Matic (Manchester United).
Attempt saved. Edin Visca (Istanbul Basaksehir) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Mahmut Tekdemir.
Substitution, Istanbul Basaksehir. Carlos Ponck replaces Martin Skrtel.
Harry Maguire (Manchester United) is shown the yellow card.
Mahmut Tekdemir (Istanbul Basaksehir) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Fred (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Mahmut Tekdemir (Istanbul Basaksehir).
Substitution, Manchester United. Nemanja Matic replaces Anthony Martial.
Attempt missed. Demba Ba (Istanbul Basaksehir) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Rafael with a cross.
Edin Visca (Istanbul Basaksehir) hits the bar with a left footed shot from outside the box. Assisted by Mahmut Tekdemir.
Martin Skrtel (Istanbul Basaksehir) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.