Fernandes Fit For Man Utd’s Champions League Clash Against Atletico

File Photo: Manchester United’s Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes (L), Manchester United’s Brazilian midfielder Fred (C) and Manchester United’s Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani (R).
Oli SCARFF / POOL / AFP

 

Bruno Fernandes returned to the Manchester United starting line-up as one of three changes made by Ralf Rangnick for Tuesday’s Champions League last 16, second leg at home to Atletico Madrid.

Fernandes missed Saturday’s 3-2 win over Tottenham, in which Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick, due to testing positive for Covid-19.

The Portuguese returns at the expense of Paul Pogba, while Scott McTominay and Anthony Elanga also come in for Nemanja Matic and Marcus Rashford.

Ronaldo leads the line, looking to add to his 25 career goals against the Spanish champions.

Atletico boss Diego Simeone also makes three changes from the 1-1 draw between the sides in the first leg three weeks ago.

Captain Koke returns along with Rodrigo De Paul in midfield, while Antoine Griezmann is preferred to Angel Correa and Luis Suarez in attack.

Manchester United (4-3-3)

David de Gea; Diogo Dalot, Harry Maguire (capt), Raphael Varane, Alex Telles; Scott McTominay, Fred, Bruno Fernandes; Anthony Elanga, Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho

Coach: Ralf Rangnick (GER)

Atletico Madrid (5-3-2)

Jan Oblak; Marcos Llorente; Stefan Savic; Jose Maria Gimenez, Reinildo; Renan Lodi; Hector Herrera, Koke (capt), Rodrigo De Paul; Joao Felix, Antoine Griezmann.

Coach: Diego Simeone (ARG)

Referee: Slavko Vincic (SLO)

AFP

Europa League: Rashford, Fernandes Give United Commanding Lead Over Granada

Manchester United’s English striker Marcus Rashford (R) celebrates with Manchester United’s English striker Mason Greenwood after scoring a goal during the UEFA Europa League football match between Granada FC and Manchester United at the Nuevo Los Carmenes stadium in Granada on April 8, 2021. CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP

 

Marcus Rashford’s brilliant finish and a Bruno Fernandes penalty handed Manchester United a 2-0 victory over Granada on Thursday, putting them firmly in charge of their Europa League quarter-final first leg. 

Rashford latched onto a long ball from Victor Lindelof in the first half, the striker injecting one bit of quality into a frantic contest at Los Carmenes before Fernandes made it two in the 90th minute after being elbowed by Yan Eteki.

The result gives United a commanding lead heading into the second leg at Old Trafford, where they should finish the job and book their place in the semi-final to face either Ajax or Roma.

Rashford has now scored eight of United’s 23 goals in this competition.

Granada celebrated their 90-year anniversary on Tuesday and arguably have never played a bigger fixture, a club that has never won a major trophy against one that has claimed 20 Premier League titles and three European Cups.


Manchester United’s players celebrate after scoring a goal during the UEFA Europa League football match between Granada FC and Manchester United at the Nuevo Los Carmenes stadium in Granada on April 8, 2021. CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP

 

This is something of a fairytale for the Spanish club that finished 10th in the second division only three years ago before Diego Martinez, arguably La Liga’s brightest up and coming coach, engineered promotion and then qualification for Europe.

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Six players in their starting line-up played for Martinez in the second tier and with Los Carmenes empty, Granada even sent all their season ticket holders a personalised ticket as a souvenir to mark the occasion.

For United, the Europa League remains Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s only realistic hope of a trophy and with a place in the top four all-but guaranteed, he can afford to give it his full attention.

Solskjaer fielded a strong line-up, with Rashford handed a start despite coming off against Brighton on Sunday with a knock. David de Gea was picked in goal for the first time since February.

Granada had Roberto Soldado up front, the 35-year-old striker who endured two disappointing seasons with Tottenham in the Premier League but tasted victory against United in his last appearance for them in 2014, when he came off for a young Harry Kane.

Manchester United’s French midfielder Paul Pogba challenges Granada’s Spanish defender Jesus Vallejo (bottom) during the UEFA Europa League football match between Granada FC and Manchester United at the Nuevo Los Carmenes stadium in Granada on April 8, 2021. CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP

 

United had to survive a frantic opening period when neither side really settled but Rashford dropped the first bit of real quality into the match just after half an hour.

Lindelof spotted his run in behind but Rashford still had a lot to do, his outstretched foot cushioning the ball brilliantly into his path and giving him a simple finish past Rui Silva.

Granada responded, a mishit cross hitting the post before Kenedy tested De Gea with a well-struck volley.

But United absorbed the pressure and should have scored a second in the second half when Daniel James burst through down the left and slipped in Fernandes, but he was unable to find the finish from the angle.

Fernandes, though, won the penalty, struck down by the arm of Eteki before getting up to take it, a scuffed shot squirming into the bottom corner to put United in sight of the semis.

AFP