A Bruno Fernandes brace set Manchester United on their way to a 4-1 victory over Istanbul Basaksehir – but the midfielder voluntarily passed up the opportunity to score a hat-trick.
Looking to avenge their demons from losing the reverse fixture, United had a much more comfortable evening at Old Trafford. Fernandes’ brace was followed up by a goal from Marcus Rashford to give them a three-goal lead by half-time.
Their opponents did find a way back into the game, but a stoppage time goal from Daniel James removed any doubt.
United had the first decent chance of the game, thanks to some good work by Rashford. The forward weaved his way through the Basaksehir defence, but his shot did not trouble the keeper too much.
United did not have to wait too long to score, though. As the ball dropped to Fernandes on the edge of the box after a corner, the Portuguese star lashed his laces through it first-time.
The ball soared into the top corner to give United the lead within seven minutes.
They thought they had doubled their advantage less than five minutes later, when Fernandes picked out Rashford for the striker to tuck home. However, the Englishman was marginally offside.
Fernandes did provide the second goal in the 20th minute. The goalkeeper misjudged a cross from the left, leaving Fernandes with a tap in into an empty net.
It then seemed the 26-year-old would have a chance to complete his hat-trick when former Celtic defender Boli Bolingoli bundled Rashford over in the box. However, Fernandes allowed Rashford to take it instead.
United’s number 10 sent the keeper the wrong way after a stuttered run up to make it 3-0 after 35 minutes.
At the other end, Demba Ba had a chance to pull one back after haunting United in the reverse fixture. However, he could not capitalise this time.
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Cavani fails to score on first start
As United emerged from the half-time break three goals to the good, Edinson Cavani, making his first start for the club, had a chance to add a fourth. His shot was blocked, though.
Fernandes’ hopes of completing a hat-trick ended when he was taken off just before the hour-mark. Mason Greenwood came on to replace him.
Greenwood has been in the spotlight recently, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer keen to protect him. After not featuring in either of the two league games since the previous game against Basaksehir, the United boss decided the time was right to bring the striker back into the fold.
It was the Turkish side who scored the next goal, though. Deniz Turuc caught David De Gea out with a swinging left-footed free kick.
It appeared as if the United goalkeeper had clawed it away, but goalline technology indicated that the ball had quite clearly crossed the line, thus reducing the deficit in quite stunning fashion.
If that was the wake up call United needed, it did not have that effect straight away. Basaksehir captain Edin Visca struck the crossbar with an effort from outside the box, and Ba nearly snuck in for a chance moments later.
However, United ultimately held on, and added a fourth goal in stoppage time. Greenwood set up James for a sidefooted finish inside the box to restore the three-goal cushion and give both players a much needed confidence boost.
Hence, United secured their third win of the group stage to move onto nine points. If they beat PSG in their next game, they will be through to the Round of 16.
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