Charitable Fernandes inspires Man United to 4-1 win in CL
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Marcus Rashford has become something of a national hero in Britain because of his campaigning for free school meals for poor students.
At Old Trafford on Tuesday, the Manchester United star was the beneficiary of a charitable gesture by a teammate.
Bruno Fernandes had already scored two early goals against Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League when he was given the chance to complete a hat trick — his first for United — from the penalty spot following a foul on Rashford.
Instead, Fernandes handed over spot-kick duties to Rashford, who duly converted to set United on its way to a 4-1 win. The Portugal international, it seems, is a man of his word.
“Of course every player wants to do a hat trick,” Fernandes said, “but after the (last) game in the Premier League, I told Rashy the next one he will take and so I remembered that.”
Fernandes said he also wanted Rashford to improve his chances of being the leading scorer in the competition this season. He is now on five goals in the group stage, after a late winner against Paris Saint-Germain and a hat trick against Leipzig.
“Rashy is one of the top scorers in the Champions League so I think it will be important there for confidence,” Fernandes said. “But it doesn’t matter who takes the penalties, most important is the team scores.”
United was never in danger of being upset a second time by the Turkish champions, who earned a surprise 2-1 win over the English club in Istanbul three weeks ago for a result that threw Group H wide open.
By taking a measure of revenge, United regained control of the group by moving onto nine points — three more than both PSG and Leipzig, who also played Tuesday, with PSG winning 1-0 at home.
United is at home to PSG next week, with the two qualifying places from the group still up for grabs. The English team will qualify avoiding defeat, having already beaten PSG away.
“It’s a good position,” Fernandes said, “but we can’t relax.”
Deniz Turuc pulled a goal back for Basaksehir, a competition newcomer, by curling in a 75th-minute free kick, before Daniel James added a fourth in injury time for United.
Fernandes’ goals came in the opening 17 minutes and were of contrasting quality.
The first — in the ninth minute — was a powerful, rising first-time effort from the edge of the area that flew high into the net after he latched onto a headed clearance by a Basaksehir defender at a corner.
His second came from close range when he tapped into an empty net after goalkeeper Fehmi Mert Gunok spilled the ball off a cross.
Since his debut for United following his January move from Sporting Lisbon, Fernandes has scored 21 goals and made 13 assists in 35 appearances.
The Portugal playmaker has nine goals in his last 11 games.
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer played down the seriousness of injuries to defenders Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Victor Lindelof, who came off with ankle and back issues, respectively.
“Hopefully they’ll be ready for the weekend,” Solskjaer said. “There was no point taking any more risks.”