Bruno Fernandes’ Europa League masterclass proves he deserves Champions League

Bruno Fernandes shouldn't be playing on Thursday nights.

A player of this class needs to be showcasing his skills in the Champions League.

There can be an argument that if that was true he should have fired Manchester United into the knockout stages before Christmas rather than the third-place finish in the group which stuck them in the Europa League.

But any failure this United side suffer is not down to him.

When he does have an off night then he has more than enough credit in the bank for his team-mates to bail him out.

This was not an off night, though.

This was another evening when he showed why he is so crucial to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side as he inspired the four-goal romp 'away' at Real Sociedad in the first leg of this last-32 tie.

Two goals in yet another a wonderful individual display that drags those around him up a level.

Marcus Rashford and Daniel James got the others to ensure the second leg is barely worth worrying about.

United boss Solskjaer said before the game maybe it should have just been a one-legged affair.

That was owing to the fact the game had to be moved to Turin because of Spain's Covid-19 restrictions on UK travellers.

Now both he and Sociedad will certainly wish it was.

There's little point in the Basque outfit travelling to Manchester next week if they're allowed.

It might have been different if a mad opening two minutes at the start went another way.

Yet again Solskjaer's side showed defensive frailties as former United ace Adnan Januzaj and Isak went close.

United's defence weren't sleeping, they were in a coma state.

But their attack was wide awake in Juventus' home ground with Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood linking up well.

Scott McTominay had a chance saved before Rashford missed a sitter.

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  • Fernandes had found the England ace unmarked in the area but he fired straight at Sociedad stopper Alex Remiro.

    It took the brilliance of Fernandes yet again to open the scoring but it was also a beautiful ball from Rashford to set it up which made up for his earlier miss.

    Rashford clipped the ball into the area for Fernandes and he cutely stepped to the side to let the on-rushing Sociedad keeper clatter two of his own defenders.

    Fleet-footed Fernandes then pounced to put away the loose ball in the 27th minute.

    Solskjaer's team selection certainly suggests he fancies winning this competition after they failed to make it out of their Champions League group.

    Ex-Manchester City star David Silva was trying to pull some strings in midfield and he sliced at a chance after the break.

    But it was United's magic midfielder who got the second with yet more brilliance just before the hour mark.

    Fernandes' dummy saw the ball go to James and then he played in the Portuguese ace before he finished.

    The assistant referee put his flag up but Fernandes was incensed. He knew he was onside and the VAR proved him right.

    Then Rashford took his chance to finish one-on-one when he was put through by a superb pass from Fred to get the third with 26 minutes to go.

    James capped a fine display with the fourth to finish off the tie as a contest as he slotted through the keeper's legs in the 90th minute.

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