Fernandes masterclass eases pressure on Solskjaer


Manchester United's English striker Marcus Rashford celebrates after Manchester United's Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes scored his team's second goal during the English Premier League football match between Everton and Manchester United at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England on November 7, 2020.

Bruno Fernandes rediscovered his form at precisely the right moment at Goodison Park, scoring two first-half goals in a performance which eased - for the time being at least - the pressure mounting on his manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The Portuguese star, so important to the Reds when he arrived at Old Trafford in January, had been struggling for form, in keeping with most of Solskjaer’s first-team squad.

But he found the perfect moment to remind his manager, and the rest of the Premier League, of his impressive and varied skillset which also features an unerring ability - for a non-striker, at least - to finish.

United were required to recover from an early setback that once more showcased their glaring weaknesses in defence and which many might have expected to provide a fatal blow on the back of two defeats this week.

It came from a goal after just 19 minutes from the impressive Brazilian wide man Bernard.

Keeper Jordan Pickford’s route one punt forward saw Dominic Calvert-Lewin easily beat Victor Lindelof with a flick which Bernard collected and, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka backing off, the Everton man beat David de Gea at his near post.

It was a catalogue of errors which spoke loudly of United’s recent problems but the response was swift and impressive from Solskjaer’s men.

Within six minutes, they were level with a goal that was every bit as routine, and badly defended, as Everton’s had been.

Luke Shaw attacked Seamus Coleman down United’s left, beat him and crossed for Bruno, whose run had not been picked up by a defender, to head home powerfully from 12 yards.

It was a goal United probably deserved on the balance of the opening half hour and better was to come after 32 minutes, with Bruno yet again influential.

Rashford fed him the ball with a short pass, continued his run and the Portuguese playmaker floated in a perfect cross which Rashford tried to touch but which flew past Pickford and in off the far post.

Moments before, Everton full-back Lucas Digne had thundered a powerful strike against a post in a thoroughly entertaining encounter in which neither defence was covering itself in glory.

But with Bruno displaying the sort of form that had such an impact on United in the second half of last season in their run to the Europa League Final and third-placed finish, United were good value for their lead.

The defensive mistakes continued after the restart and, with it, a degree of acrimony crept in between the two sides.

On the hour, Juan Mata floated in a free-kick which Pickford caught as he stepped out of play, before dropping the ball for Harry Maguire who, from a difficult angle, could only knee it onto the roof of the goal.

He also appeared to have been fouled by the keeper as he did so, although VAR decided there was no case to answer, and Maguire was still suitably incensed moments later when he put in a thunderous challenge on Digne even though an offside flag had gone up moments before.

It was fair, if unnecessarily robust, and players from both sides squared up to debate the issue.

Pickford atoned for earlier errors saving, with his legs, from Rashford and Bruno, booked in the first half, was fortunate to escape a red for a late foul on Allan.

The final goal came deep in injury-time and, again, had Bruno’s fingerprints on it as he broke upfield as Everton pressed and slipped in substitute Edinson Cavani for his first goal for the club.

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