Fernandes Bags Brace As Man United Sink Basaksehir
Manchester United avenged their humbling Champions League defeat against Istanbul Basaksehir as Bruno Fernandes scored twice in a 4-1 rout of the Turkish champions on Tuesday.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side crashed to a shock 2-1 loss at the hands of the Group H outsiders in Istanbul earlier in November.
But there was never any chance of another upset as United ran Basaksehir ragged at Old Trafford.
Fernandes was the catalyst with a stunning long-range opener early in the first half.
He doubled the lead before passing up a hat-trick chance when he allowed Marcus Rashford to convert the penalty that brought United’s third goal before half-time.
Basaksehir’s Deniz Turuc netted a fine free-kick but, after a late United wobble, Daniel James struck in the final moments to seal the points.
United’s third win from four group matches means one point from their last two games against Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig would secure their place in the last 16.
United’s loss in Istanbul had raised serious questions about Solskjaer’s ability to hold onto his job.
But successive Premier League wins against Everton and West Brom, followed by this emphatic success, have eased the pressure on Solskjaer a little.
Solskjaer named Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani in the starting line-up for the first time since his signing in October.
With Paul Pogba still sidelined by a swollen ankle, there was a rare start for Dutch midfielder Donny van de Beek.
Both Cavani, who has scored once in seven appearances for United, and van de Beek did their chances of a more regular action no harm with solid displays, but it was Fernandes and Rashford who stole the show.
– Rampant United –
Rashford nearly gave United the perfect start in the second minute when he slalomed through the Basaksehir defence with a superb run, but couldn’t find the power in his shot to beat Istanbul keeper Mert Gunok.
United had torn into their overwhelmed visitors and they deservedly took the lead in the seventh minute.
When Alex Telles’ corner was only cleared to the edge of the area, Fernandes let it bounce before unleashing a thunderous strike that flashed into the roof of the net.
It was the Portugal midfielder’s eighth goal of the season and his second in successive games.
Rampant United doubled their lead in the 19th minute with a gift from Gunok.
Telles’ cross should have been easy for Gunok, but he seemed distracted by Cavani’s half-hearted attempt to reach it and dropped the ball to Fernandes, who had the simple task of slotting into the empty net.
Fernandes’ impact on United has been huge since he arriving from Sporting Lisbon in January, the 26-year-old now directly involved in 34 goals in 35 games in all competitions for United.
United were in total control and the third goal came courtesy of Rashford’s electric pace in the 36th minute.
Sprinting onto Victor Lindelof’s long pass, Rashford surged into the Basaksehir area before being barged over by Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo.
Fernandes was on a hat-trick and had scored a penalty against West Brom on Saturday.
He let Rashford take the penalty instead this time and the England forward sent Gunok the wrong way for his fifth Champions League goal in four games this season.
Gunok raced off his line to deny Fernandes his treble just before the break.
After United lost Lindelof to injury at half-time, it was no surprise Solskjaer took off Fernandes and Rashford to protect his stars with half an hour left.
United’s energy dipped as a result of those changes and Basaksehir got one back in the 75th minute when Turuc’s superb free-kick went over the line despite De Gea’s attempt to claw it out.
James finished off Mason Greenwood’s pass in stoppage-time for his first United goal since March.