Manchester City saw their 21-match winning streak come to an end as Manchester United secured a 2-0 derby victory over the runaway Premier League leaders on Sunday. 

Bruno Fernandes converted a penalty after 101 seconds following a clumsy foul by Gabriel Jesus, while Luke Shaw was the unlikely scorer as the visitors doubled their lead in the 50th minute.

The result means Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has once again come out on top against Pep Guardiola, in the process becoming the first United boss to win each of his first three away trips in all competitions at the Etihad Stadium. 

City may still hold an 11-point cushion at the summit but missing out on setting a new club record of 29 games unbeaten will sting, particularly considering the opposition. This is their first setback since a 2-0 reverse at Tottenham on November 21, 2020. 

United had not scored in their three previous outings leading into the contest, yet were gifted the chance to end that barren run when Jesus – retained in the Guardiola's starting XI following a brace in the 4-1 win over Wolves – carelessly clipped Anthony Martial. 

The Brazilian was nearly bailed out by compatriot Ederson, yet the goalkeeper was only able to palm Fernandes' low effort from the spot into the net. 

Initially flustered at falling behind for the first time in 20 league games, City eventually recovered from the early setback to assume control of proceedings. 

Oleksandr Zinchenko tested Dean Henderson – again playing with David de Gea away on paternity leave – while Rodri struck the angle joining crossbar and post with a rising drive early in the second half. 

However, it was United who grabbed the pivotal second goal in the game. Shaw carried the ball from deep and then continued his forward run after giving possession to Marcus Rashford, allowing the left-back to take the return pass and drag a low shot through Rodri's legs and into the far corner. 

City huffed and puffed but were unable to find a way to blow the United defence down, not aided by managing to put just five of their 21 attempts on target. While seemingly destined to finish the campaign on top of the table, they were second best to their rivals here.
 

 

Bruno Fernandes is convinced the signing of Alex Telles is the key component behind Luke Shaw's dramatic improvement at Manchester United after the left-back won the club's Player of the Month award.

It was not so long ago that Shaw's United career appeared to be petering out to an underwhelming conclusion, particularly during Jose Mourinho's ill-fated reign.

In two-and-a-half years playing for the Portuguese coach, Shaw only made 33 Premier League appearances. While he did have injury and fitness problems, the manager's attitude seemingly did little to endear himself to the player.

Mourinho criticised Shaw publicly on several occasions, yet the left-back kept his head down and – to the surprise of very few – ultimately outlasted the 'Special One', kicking on brilliantly under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

His five assists this season is already a personal high for a Premier League season, having only managed seven in total in previous campaigns, but that's just the tip of the iceberg – Shaw's chance creation frequency of 2.44 per game is almost double his previous best of 1.3 in 2016-17, and that was from just 11 appearances.

The only defender to lay on goalscoring chances at a better rate than Shaw is Ryan Fredericks (2.45), though his marginally improved record comes from 13 fewer games than Shaw's 23.

Liverpool's Andrew Robertson has previously been held up as something of a standard-bearer for full-backs in the Premier League, yet Shaw's 31 key passes from open play is just one less than his 32 from four fewer outings. Joao Cancelo leads the way (36), though he does count set-piece deliveries as among his strong points – the United man does.

Statistically, this season is an outlier for Shaw in almost every regard and highlights just how much of a step forward he has taken, but Fernandes is convinced there has been one major catalyst for this resurgence.

Speaking to the United website ahead of Sunday's derby clash with Manchester City, Fernandes said: "[Shaw]'s been playing really, really well in the last few months. I think he started a little bit slow like everyone did because at the beginning of the season we didn't start good.

"I think the competition between Alex and Luke has given both of them the chances to be better and to improve. This is really important because you know if you are not performing well you will be out of the team.

"I think Luke started to perform well when he had that pressure from Alex. At the same time, Alex when he plays has played really well because he knows that Luke is on the bench.

"So, the pressure between them is good but the relationship between them is better, I have seen that in the stands. Alex is always pushing to help everyone and I remember when I came off against Real Sociedad it was Luke in the stands and I saw a lot of times Luke pushing to help Alex.

"This is what we're about. You can be fighting for the same place, but you are fighting for the same achievements, you know.

"This has to be like that in every position in the team, we have to understand that whoever is playing it's because the manager thinks he's better for the team in that moment and the most important thing is the team.

"I think everyone is happy for Luke to win this Player of the Month award and I'm happy too because he deserves it, and I hope he can continue this form until the end of the season because he knows Alex is there to take his position."

Sunday's trip to City will see Fernandes go up against some familiar faces in Ruben Dias, Bernardo Silva and Cancelo, all of whom are colleagues of his at international level with Portugal.

All three have enjoyed fine campaigns individually and, as a collective, have helped City embark on a club-record winning streak of 21 games across all competitions.

Avoiding defeat again on Sunday will mean City are unbeaten in 29 matches, another new club record, and Fernandes made no secret of wishing his compatriots were not doing so well as a team.

"I speak with them regularly, we have a good relationship, but the relationships stay out of the game. They know me and they know that on the pitch we are not friends anymore," he said with a grin.

"At the same time I enjoy seeing them play and every one of them is doing well individually and I'm happy for them. As a team I was hoping to see them do a little bit worse than they are doing, but individually I am happy for them because they are good people and they deserve to be in the positions they are and playing in the way they are playing."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is not concerned by Bruno Fernandes' waning impact in Manchester United's attack, believing his team-mates can profit from the midfielder's mere presence.

Fernandes has not provided a goal or an assist in his past three appearances in all competitions, each of which have seen United held to goalless draws.

Prior to his mini barren run, the Portugal international had averaged 3.8 shots and 2.9 chances created per 90 minutes, enjoying 83.4 touches, including 3.6 in the opposition box.

Over the three games since scoring and assisting against Newcastle United, he has averaged two shots and 2.8 chances per 90, touching the ball in the area at the same rate but seeing his overall involvement drop to 72.4 touches.

It is only a slight drop-off from Fernandes' lofty standards, but combined with United's underwhelming run – they have not had a single 'big chance' since their two against Newcastle – it has prompted discussion.

Solskjaer is not worried, however, calling on his other United stars to step up, starting against rivals Manchester City on Sunday.

"We expect everyone to be a leader, everyone to take that responsibility," Solskjaer said.

"Of course it might be Bruno, but I know that teams are trying to man-mark him at times and that's not a dig at anyone.

"That's just that sometimes in football they try to stop your best player. And someone else will have to step forward.

"Bruno might find a position, make space for others, create. He has created chances for others even when he has not touched the ball. And you see others have created chances for Bruno when they've not touched the ball.

"It's about the movement and creating space for your team-mate and taking that responsibility.

"We have had big moments in big games recently. Chances that we would normally put away and then everyone is rosy, everyone says we are the best thing since sliced bread.

"The away game against Chelsea wasn't far away from being almost a perfect away game. We should have had a penalty, we should have got the last counter-attack, one last pass away from winning the game.

"It is about taking the big moments and having some luck in the big moments."

Since Fernandes made his United debut in February 2020, he has been involved in 54 goals in all competitions, ranking third across Europe's 'top five' leagues behind only Robert Lewandowski (74) and Lionel Messi (60).

Only that superstar duo and former United sensation Cristiano Ronaldo have attempted more shots than Fernandes' 202.

Meanwhile, he tops the charts for chances created (158) over that span, just ahead of City's Kevin De Bruyne (156).

Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes has defended his record against 'top six' clubs ahead of the derby against Manchester City on Sunday.

Fernandes has been a revelation at Old Trafford since his big-money move from Sporting CP in January 2020.

The 26-year-old has scored 15 goals and provided 10 assists in 27 Premier League games this season, but Tottenham are the only club among the established 'top six' he has found the back of the net against - a penalty in October's 6-1 defeat.

United will need Fernandes to fire when they face runaway leaders City at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

The Portugal international says it is unfair to suggest he has failed to rise to the occasion against stronger opponents.

He told Sky Sports: "I don't know what people mean by 'top six', because the teams are in top six in the table. I score and assist against some of them.

"I score this season against Tottenham. But some people say penalties don't count!

"I know people expect Bruno to score or assist in every game because when I arrived, I was playing really well. If you see my stats, everyone is thinking that Bruno has to score in every game, Bruno has to assist in every game.

"And I want to do that - it's the most important thing. But as a player, I don't look for the big six or the rest of the league. I look for every game in the same way.

"And I think the league is not a sprint, it's a marathon. So you don't have to score or win against the big six - you have to score and win against everyone.

"I see people talking about Bruno not doing so well against the 'big six'. People have said Bruno gives the ball away too many times when we lose a game.

"Also, in the game against Basaksehir, I scored two goals and I lost more balls than their team, but people said I was the best player in the game. So, what is the point?"

United take on a seemingly unstoppable City side having been held to three consecutive goalless draws in all competitions and Fernandes is aware he has not been at his best of late.

"I agree the last two games, I didn't play very well. And I don't need to see the stats to see if I play well or not. I know when I play well or not." he said.

"I saw an interview from Luke (Shaw) saying, 'people now care more about stats than the performance'. And this is the truth. Because now they're expecting from me just goals and assists, and not performances.

"They don't care about the performance of Bruno, they don't care about ball recovery or how many chances I create, because I can create 10 chances but if I don't score, people will say Bruno didn't play very well.

"But this is football. Football is in the moment. Some people have said I'm playing bad, and that I have to do better. And I agree, because we always can do better. But for me, it's okay. I can have that pressure on my back.

"I'm sure in some moments, I will score, I will assist, and I will perform. And that will help my team-mates to win the game."

Bruno Fernandes epitomises the quality Manchester United need to become "the most unstoppable team in the Premier League", according to Nani.

Fernandes has proven to be a stellar signing for United, the Portugal midfielder wowing with his performances since joining from Sporting CP just over a year ago.

He has 40 goal involvements – 23 goals and 17 assists – in 41 Premier League appearances ahead of Sunday's derby showdown with Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.

And Nani is delighted to see his compatriot shining at Old Trafford, with the ex-United and Sporting winger insisting Fernandes can help Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side overhaul City – if his team-mates can rise to his level.

"I'm so happy to see what he's been doing at Man United, because we had some conversations when we played together at Sporting and in one of the conversations it was to advise him to go to Man United instead of going to another Premier League team, and I'm so happy because we can see he has been performing fantastic," Nani told Stats Perform News.

"He has been a part of every goal of the team. He has been pushing the team to go get the results. When Bruno Fernandes doesn't appear, you have [Marcus] Rashford, you have other players, they have quality, but you don't see a player with the same attitude as him, with the same desire to go and make the same quality of passes.

"And if you don't have Bruno, it's very difficult to have another one. So in Man City, if Bernardo [Silva] is not there you have [Joao] Cancelo, if you don't have Canelo you have [Ilkay] Gundogan, you have many players who have more confidence and can make the same impact in the game.

"So at Man United you have players with so much power, maybe better than City I believe, much better than City, but they appear sometimes, and we want them to appear in these games.

"When they appear every time in these games, we will be the most unstoppable team in the Premier League. I'm so confident in that."

United will need to shrug off their recent malaise, which has seen them endure three goalless draws, with even Fernandes showing signs of fatigue in Wednesday's stalemate at Crystal Palace.

It was the 24th league match in which the 26-year-old completed 90 minutes for United but the first time he failed to attempt a shot at goal.

Fernandes' 15 top-flight goals this term have come at a rate of one every 153 minutes, with his total exceeding his xG (expected goals) of 11.89.

He compares favourably with City's man-of-the-moment Gundogan when it comes to creativity, with 10 assists to the German's one. Furthermore, Fernandes has an average of three chances created per 90 minutes, while Gundogan has 1.6.

It is nonetheless a huge task that faces United this weekend, with City unbeaten in 28 games in all competition – one shy of a club record.

Bruno Fernandes being hailed as the signing who turned around Manchester United's fortunes would have been difficult for Paul Pogba to take, according to Nani.

Fernandes has received rave reviews for his incredible performances since arriving at Old Trafford from Sporting CP just over a year ago.

The attacking midfielder has recorded 40 goal involvements – 23 goals and 17 assists – in 41 Premier League appearances, leading him to be touted as the player who can lead United back to the top.

Former United winger Nani, a four-time Premier League winner, thinks every United squad member would have had to take stock after Fernandes' stunning impact.

And adapting would have been particularly tough for Pogba, who was previously established as the star man.

Nani feels Pogba and the rest of the United players have adjusted well over the past year to increasingly incorporate Fernandes' individual brilliance into better team performances and results.

But he believes the connection between World Cup winner Pogba and Portugal international Fernandes must get stronger still.

Nani told Stats Perform News: "There are different [types of] players on the field - you have Bruno Fernandes, a smarter attacking player, and Pogba who can do a little bit of both [attacking and defending].

"Pogba can handle the game a bit for Bruno to go a little bit up [the pitch]. They have to try to have the connection. 

"It is not easy, when you [Pogba] are the player for the club, the midfield star, and another player arrives to the team and starts performing so well.

"And then [it is not easy] that everyone starts talking just about the player and, 'He made the team change, he made everything'. 

"All of that could have a little bit of an impact in every head on the team. 

"But what I see in the last games, the players adjust to that. They have confirmed [in ther minds] a little bit what Bruno can give to the team.

"And Bruno is part of the team so now they look like more of a strong team. 

"So I'm very confident about the next games until the end of the season. I think there will be a surprise to the end of the season because they are still in the Europa League. Let's see."

Pogba has just over one year left on his current contract and agent Mino Raiola said in December his client wanted to leave United.

While Raiola later backtracked somewhat during the January transfer window, he insisted he would still push for a transfer at the end of the season, though the club have talked about a new deal.

Nani was asked whether Pogba's continued presence in the headlines meant he had become a distraction for United.

"At this moment, I see him as one of the important players at Man United," Nani said about Pogba.

"But I don't know what he has on his mind, if he wants to leave or if all this news is making some problems in his head.

"I don't know if he has full concentration on the team, on the games, on the goals of the team. 

"I saw him when he was struggling with some injuries and then he came back and started playing, he was improving his performance. He was doing well. 

"He was helping the team, but we know Pogba can do much better, he can do much more because he is a top player in this position. He's not using all his strength, all his qualities. 

"But if he wants to stay at the club, for sure he will perform much better very soon. He needs to continue to improve his game, his confidence and try to help the team in the way he can."

Pogba has been out of action for a month since suffering a thigh injury in the dramatic 3-3 draw with Everton.

While United are unbeaten in seven games without him, four of those contests have been draws, including Wednesday's goalless encounter at Crystal Palace.

That was their sixth goalless Premier League draw of the season, their joint-most ever in a season, along with 2004-05 and 2016-17.

It is also the first time United have drawn three consecutive matches 0-0 in all competitions since October 2015, when they were playing under Louis van Gaal.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is weighing up whether to block Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes from travelling with Portugal during the international break due to COVID-19 quarantine.

Portugal are scheduled to play three World Cup qualifiers this month – at home to Azerbaijan (March 24), away to Serbia (March 27) and on the road against Luxembourg (March 30).

Linking up with Portugal would mean Fernandes would be subject to a 10-day quarantine in a government-approved hotel upon his return to the United Kingdom amid the coronavirus pandemic.

It would also leave Solskjaer without the services of Fernandes against Brighton and Hove Albion (April 3) and Tottenham (April 10).

Asked about the situation following Wednesday's goalless draw away to Crystal Palace, United manager Solskjaer told reporters: "We have not sat down and made a proper call on that one but it doesn't make sense if you lose your player for 10 days' isolation.

"We are the ones paying the players, from what I understand, that [being allowed to ban players travelling] is the rule. 

"FIFA have given the rule that they don't have to be released, so it is going to be a hard call to make to let them play in red-list countries.

"I want Bruno ready for Brighton and hopefully we will be through in Europe and against Tottenham after that break, of course I do."

United were held to their third successive scoreless draw across all competitions after firing another blank against Palace midweek.

Solskjaer's faltering United produced another toothless display at Selhurst Park, where the Red Devils slipped 14 points adrift of runaway leaders Manchester City ahead of Sunday's derby.

United registered their sixth goalless Premier League draw of the season – the club's joint-most ever in a campaign, along with 2004-05 and 2016-17.

The Premier League giants have also drawn three consecutive matches 0-0 in all competitions for the first time since October 2015 under Louis van Gaal.

"Of course we're not happy when you don't create chances enough to win a game," Solskjaer said. "Of course, it's been a week with no goals, and sometimes three games sounds a lot without scoring.

"It was not considered either but a week in a season like this sometimes is... yeah, you just don't hit the form that you normally had, that you have had for many, many months, so it's a bit of a worry. Of course it is.

"But, I know that the boys are given everything. And that's the thing with we play every three days, and I know they given everything they've got so attitude and approach I'm very happy with the quality. We need to get back to what we know we can do."

Manchester United left-back Luke Shaw teased Bruno Fernandes as he hailed the Red Devils star's "unbelievable" impact at Old Trafford.

Fernandes has taken United and the Premier League by storm since arriving from Portuguese giants Sporting CP in January last year.

The Portugal international has scored 15 goals and tallied 10 assists for second-placed United this season ahead of Wednesday's Premier League trip to Crystal Palace.

Fernandes has 40 goal involvements in his 40 Premier League appearances so far (23 goals and 17 assists). However, three of the last four matches in which the Portuguese has failed to register a goal or assist have been in London (against Chelsea, Arsenal and Fulham).

Shaw poked fun at team-mate Fernandes – who has netted 34 times in 61 matches across all competitions – telling Adidas: "We do talk a bit, but honestly the guy's numbers are unbelievable, what he's doing and how he's doing it.

"I said to him 'Bruno, I'll be honest, you weren't great [against Real Sociedad in the Europa League last-32 first leg] but you scored two goals. I just don't know how you do it!"

Shaw added: "I think people in football understand the game and how important that player is, who doesn't get many assists or goals, but a lot of the outside world is all about stats.

"It's understandable because they watch it and they want to see those things, but you've just got to deal with it."

United face Palace in London midweek, 15 points adrift of runaway leaders and neighbours Manchester City.

Only four clubs in English top-flight history have had a longer unbeaten away run than United's current 20-match streak (W13 D7).

United have not lost any of their last seven league games in London (W4 D3), last having a longer run without defeat in the capital between December 2011-December 2013 (13 games).

The Red Devils have never lost in 11 Premier League away games against Palace – the most one side has played at another without ever losing in the competition (W8 D3).

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel revealed Paris Saint-Germain tried to sign Bruno Fernandes before he joined Manchester United with devastating impact last year.

Speaking ahead of Chelsea's Premier League clash with rivals United on Sunday, Tuchel explained that during his time as PSG head coach from 2018 to late 2020, the Ligue 1 champions tried to lure Fernandes to Paris.

The Portugal international was captain of Sporting CP at the time, but eventually signed for United in January 2020 and has since scored 34 goals in 60 appearances across all competitions.

"With my first sporting director in Paris, Antero Henrique, a Portuguese sporting director, and he knew [Fernandes] very well," Tuchel told reporters.

"We fought hard to have a connection to him and to bring him to our team. I got made aware of him more in detail, so we watched more and more games about him and followed him and tried to be in touch with him to make it happen.

"Obviously, he decided [to sign for Manchester United] and I was never personally in touch with him, but we tried and he went another way. [It is] bad for us that we have to play against him."

Fernandes looms as a key factor in Sunday's clash against fifth-placed Chelsea, with both sides fighting to make the top four and secure Champions League berths.

The 26-year-old currently sits second for assists in the 2020-21 Premier League campaign with 10, only one behind Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne and Tottenham's Harry Kane.

Fernandes provided his 10th Premier League assist of the season against Newcastle United last time out, becoming only the fourth different United player to reach double figures for both goals (15) and assists in a single Premier League campaign, after Eric Cantona (three times), Dwight Yorke (1998-99) and Wayne Rooney (five times).

Tuchel has been extremely impressed by Fernandes' impact since joining United, leading the club to a top-four spot last season before helping them move up to second this campaign.

"The impact he has had since he arrived at Manchester United is indescribable and unbelievable," Tuchel said.

"To come from Portugal, from a competitive team, a big club but not from the strongest league and stepping in a year to one of the biggest clubs in the Premier League and the strongest league in Europe and to have this kind of impact, I have nothing but the biggest respect for this guy.

"It is outstanding. He is one of the best midfielders in the world, attacking midfielders, and he has a huge, huge impact and to have this as a single person in football, you must be absolutely top level because this is almost impossible.

"But he has such a big influence on their game, on their attacking game and that it is a big key to defend against him, to be around him and close to him and he is a key player of Man Utd in a way that is outstanding."

United are second in the Premier League, 13 points behind runaway leaders City but six clear of Chelsea.

Paul Scholes was full of praise for Bruno Fernandes after the Portuguese playmaker once again underlined his importance to Manchester United.

A potentially tricky Europa League first leg against Real Sociedad turned into a rout thanks in no small part to Fernandes, who scored twice in Turin to help United run out convincing 4-0 winners over LaLiga opponents.

The result puts Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side on course to reach the last 16 of the competition ahead of the return fixture at Old Trafford, which takes place next Thursday.

As for Fernandes, he has now scored 33 times in all competitions since making his debut for the Red Devils on February 1, 2020. Only four players within the top five European leagues can better that tally: Robert Lewandowski (53), Cristiano Ronaldo (40), Romelu Lukaku (38) and Erling Haaland (36).

Club legend Scholes is certainly a fan of Fernandes, applauding a "terrific signing" for the way he always seems to make an impact every time he plays.

"He's been sensational since the very day he signed really," Scholes said on BT Sport.

"He makes the team play football and, you have to say, every time you watch him play, every single game he plays, he affects it, which someone in that position should be doing. 

"With the quality that he's got, you feel like he's going to score goals, he's going to make goals. 

"He's been a truly, truly terrific signing."

Fernandes has nine goals in all European competitions for United; only Inter striker Lukaku (11) has netted more across both the Europa League and Champions League since last February.

The 26-year-old's brace against Real Sociedad helped lead to the biggest away victory by an English side against a Spanish opponent in the UEFA Cup/Europa League, surpassing Newcastle United's 3-0 win at Real Mallorca back in March 2004.

Marcus Rashford was also on target to take his tally in Europe to seven for the season before Dan James added a late fourth for United, who tallied 13 total shots despite having just 40.6 per cent of possession.

Bruno Fernandes urged Manchester United to keep maturing and increase their chances of winning trophies after inspiring their emphatic Europa League win over Real Sociedad.

The Portugal star scored twice before Marcus Rashford and Daniel James also got on the scoresheet in a 4-0 victory at the Allianz Stadium in Turin.

Fernandes has now been directly involved in 52 goals in all competitions since his United debut last February, 10 more than any other Premier League player in that time.

His latest decisive display ensured the Red Devils ended a nine-game winless run against Spanish opposition and put themselves in a strong position to reach the last 16.

And it is progress in as many competitions as possible that matters most to Fernandes as he bids to win his first silverware since leaving Sporting CP, having suffered three semi-final defeats in 2019-20.

"It's about winning. We want to win games and today I think we did everything well," he told BT Sport.

"The result is on our side, but we have the second leg. We still have a tough game at home. We know 4-0 is a good result, but we have to be aware of what Real Sociedad can do.

"I think we don't have to look at results, we have to look at performances. We know we don't perform well in some games, but still, in some games, we don't get the result we want and we perform well.

"We need to understand we have to grow up, we are getting better and better, and of course the most important thing is the results, to give you a little more confidence.

"My target is scoring the most goals I can and trying to assist my team-mates. I think the position I play is to do that, to assist and score when you can.

"Most important for me, my target is trophies. Winning trophies is more important than scoring goals."

United host Sociedad at Old Trafford next Thursday, after Newcastle United visit in the league this Sunday.

Bruno Fernandes scored twice as Manchester United beat Real Sociedad 4-0 in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie.

Fernandes took his tally to 33 goals in all competitions for the Red Devils to put Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men in charge inside the first hour.

The LaLiga side had posed a threat at the Allianz Stadium in Turin, where the match was being held due to coronavirus travel restrictions, but Marcus Rashford and Daniel James struck before Amad Diallo was granted his debut late on, meaning United go into next week's return leg in a commanding position.

Former United man Adnan Januzaj curled a shot just wide of the right-hand post and Dean Henderson had to save smartly from Alexander Isak, those chances coming either side of a wasted Rashford opportunity in a thrilling opening three minutes.

Scott McTominay, who had scored three goals in United's previous four games, was denied another by the leg of Alex Remiro after driving into the box from Fernandes' pass.

Rashford then missed another glorious opportunity, firing straight at Remiro after Alex Telles' throughball to Fernandes split the Sociedad defence.

However, he turned provider in the 26th minute. This time, Remiro made a mess of things coming off his line to clear Rashford's pass and clattered into his defenders, giving Fernandes a simple finish.

La Real applied some pressure early in the second half but United doubled their lead on the break. Fernandes let Rashford's pass run to Daniel James and then swept a first-time finish past Remiro, with VAR overturning an initial offside call.

Januzaj continued to threaten against his old club, beating Fernandes and playing in a dangerous cross that Nemanja Matic cleared, but Rashford made no mistake with the third of his chances to kill off the game, slotting past Remiro after Fred's pass cut through the defence.

James had a goal disallowed for a marginal offside and fired another effort straight at Remiro, but he made no mistake with his next chance, charging into the box and squeezing a shot through the keeper's legs.

What does it mean? United end Spanish hoodoo to take charge of tie

United had gone nine games without a win against Spanish sides in Europe stretching back to a 1-0 semi-final first-leg victory over Celta Vigo en route to winning this trophy in 2016-17.

This was a welcome result against a strong side that saw United find something of their attacking groove again and take control of the last-32 tie.

They have been inconsistent at home this season, but they will be firm favourites to progress next week at Old Trafford.

Bruno is frankly brilliant

Fernandes has been involved in 53 goals in 58 games for United in all competitions, which is 10 more than any other Premier League player has managed since his debut last February.

Imanol Alguacil's set-up afforded him lots of space to exploit but, unlike some of his team-mates, Fernandes almost always applies a clinical touch.

United can still sharpen up in attack

This proved a comfortable win but, in truth, United should have had many more. Rashford missed two sitters in the first half, James missed an easier chance than the one he converted, and Greenwood dragged a good opening wide.

Should they progress to the latter stages, they will want to avoid a repeat of last year's semi-final exit when Sevilla punished their lack of ruthlessness. This was an encouraging step towards correcting that problem.

What's next?

Before next Thursday's second leg, United are at home to Newcastle United in the Premier League on Sunday, with Sociedad hosting Deportivo Alaves in LaLiga.

Harry Maguire and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer were left confused as to why West Brom's opener in Manchester United's 1-1 draw on Sunday was allowed to stand after an apparent foul.

United dropped points for the fourth time in five Premier League games, as the Red Devils were unable to make the most of their dominance at The Hawthorns.

Bruno Fernandes got United's goal on the stroke of half-time, taking him to 38 goal involvements for the club in as many league games, a record bettered by only Andy Cole (46) in his first 38 Premier League games.

But United failed to build on that as they struggled to break West Brom's packed defence down, meaning Mbaye Diagne's early goal consigned them to another disappointing result.

But there was more than a hint of controversy around Diagne's goal, which stood despite the striker clearly catching Victor Lindelof in the face with his hand.

The situation left Maguire and Solskjaer baffled.

Maguire, who had a goal of a similar nature disallowed against Burnley, told Sky Sports: "We created a lot of chances - enough to win the game.

"It was tough for ourselves with the goal we conceded - for us it was a foul. We played the game in their half. We can do more and improve but it's disappointing. It was a tough job against a team that defends deep."

Speaking to beIN SPORTS, Solskjaer added: "I'm an ex-forward, so it's not as if I'm going to say it's a big foul against Victor, but why did Harry's goal against Burnley – and I know I'm going back a bit here – [get disallowed] … Where's the consistency here? There's absolutely no consistency in any of these decisions.

"If Harry's against Burnley is a foul, that is miles worse. As a striker you say well done, because if that had been taken away from me I would have been disappointed, so it's just the consistency we're looking for."

The draw put United second again but meant they were seven points adrift of leaders Manchester City, who also have a game in hand.

Manchester United dropped points in the Premier League for the fourth time in five matches as they were held to a 1-1 draw at rock-bottom West Brom, further denting their disappearing hopes of challenging Manchester City at the summit.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men extended their unbeaten run away from home to 19 matches, though it will be seen as another missed opportunity as United are left seven points adrift of City, who still have a game in hand.

United, as they have become accustomed to, fell behind thanks to Mbaye Diagne's controversial early opener, but the visitors equalised through Fernandes on the stroke of half-time, making this the first season since 2012-13 that they have netted 50 times after 20 league matches.

They continued to dominate proceedings in the second half but saw a penalty decision wiped out and former United prospect Sam Johnstone stunningly tipped a Harry Maguire header onto the post deep into stoppage time.

 

 

 

Bruno Fernandes has urged Manchester United's emerging stars to seize their moment as they seek to make an impression at Old Trafford.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed ahead of Sunday's trip to West Brom that teenage trio Shola Shoretire, Hannibal Mejbr and Amad Diallo would all be involved with the senior side.

Fernandes has been a leading light for United this season, helping to propel the Red Devils into possible Premier League title contention.

The Portuguese playmaker hopes the injection of youth into the United first-team fold will provide a boost, though he urged those making the step up to work hard and stay humble.

"They have to keep their heads clean, because it's easy to come in to the first team and your head goes a little bit, and it's also hard when you have to go back and train and play with the other teams again," he told the club's official website.

"I was in that position some years ago and I know it's hard, but if you work and are humble and you understand that every time you play is a chance, no matter where you are playing, every time is a chance to show you are ready or that you want to make that next step.

"For us as a team, it’s important that when they come [to train with us] that they come to help us and learn from everyone and also give the qualities they have to the team.

"If they come to the first team it's because they have something good and that is something that can help us."

We took a closer look at two of United's most promising prospects, in Mejbri and Shoretire.

 

HANNIBAL MEJBRI, 18 – ATTACKING MIDFIELDER

Many will have had an eye on Mejbri's development ever since he joined the club from Monaco in August 2019 in a deal that could potentially cost €10million (£8.75m).

A France youth international, Mejbri quickly progressed to United's Under-23s last term despite only being 17 and has become a regular.

A technically gifted attack-minded midfielder, Mejbri has impressed not only with his ability on the ball, but his knack of crafting opportunities for team-mates.

In Premier League 2 Division One, his 42 chances created in 13 games is more than any other player, while his six assists is a joint-best for the league.

He has combined his creativity and comfort in possession to good effect as well, as evidenced by the fact seven of his carries (a movement of more than five metres with the ball) have led to chances created, a figured bettered by only five.

Mejbri has also attempted 49 dribbles, the fourth-most in the division, and won a remarkable 94 fouls – almost three times as many as anyone else – two of which secured penalties in the recent 6-3 win over Liverpool's Under-23s.

In fact, Wood recently urged referees to do more to protect him from such rough treatment, concerned Mejbri will suffer a serious injury if it continues.

He can expect similar attention if he does get minutes in the top flight, though Wood is adamant Mejbri does not let it get to him, saying: "I think he's the type that he wants the ball all the time, he's not going to shy away from it and that's what we want, you don't want your top players being worried, he just needs a bit of protection or it could result in him being badly injured."

SHOLA SHORETIRE, 17 – FORWARD

Shoretire joined the United academy in 2014 having previously played for Newcastle United, and for several years now he has looked like one of the next high-potential kids to come off the Old Trafford production line.

He made his debut for the club's Under-18s in 2018, in doing so becoming the youngest player to ever feature in UEFA's Youth League at 14 years and 314 days.

Shoretire – whose name is pronounced 'Shor-ay-ti-reh' – is most-often used as a winger (on either flank) for the Under-23s, but given his excellent dribbling, vision and finishing abilities, he could potentially have a future as a more central striker.

He signed his first professional contract on Monday, just three days after netting a hat-trick against Blackburn Rovers' Under-23s.

That took him to five goals in 13 appearances this term, while he also has four assists from 22 chances created.

Where he comes out particularly well is with regards to goal-ending passing sequences, of which he has been involved in 13 – only Mejbri (14) has a better record here.

Like Mejbri, Shoretire also has a penchant for taking the game to his opponents, as showcased by the fact he has created eight chances at the end of ball carries, the fifth-most in the league.

Given United's packed schedule over the next few weeks, with their European campaign set to resume, it wouldn't be a surprise to see these two make their first-team bows.

Even if they don't this season, it is surely only a matter of time.

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