Bruno Fernandes believes Erik ten Hag and Manchester United deserved to win the FA Cup after a challenging campaign.

Goals from Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo gave United a 2-1 victory over Manchester City in Saturday's final at Wembley.

The cup victory comes amid strong reports that manager Ten Hag will be relieved of his duties in the near future following an eighth-placed finish in the Premier League.

But with Ten Hag potentially going out on a high, Fernandes feels Ten Hag and the club earned their opportunity to walk up the famous Wembley steps to lift the FA Cup.

"It is crucial for everyone," Fernandes told the BBC. "We know the manager is under so much scrutiny. He deserves this, also everyone in the backroom staff and the players, we all deserve this.

"It was the last chance to get something positive from the season. We were here last season and we weren't good enough, and we had to see them [City] go up and get the trophy.

"They have great quality, great players, a great manager. We had to sacrifice and suffer but we did great things. I try my best to help the team."

In scoring United's second, Mainoo (19 years and 36 days) became the first English teenager to net in an FA Cup final since Steve MacKenzie for City against Tottenham in 1981 (19y 172d) and the youngest to do so since John Sissons for West Ham against Preston North End in 1964 (18y 215d).

Fernandes hailed the impact of Mainoo, who earlier this week was named in Gareth Southgate's provisional 33-man England squad for the upcoming European Championships in Germany.

"Kobbie Mainoo is really good, such a quality player and you can see the composure he had with the finish," Fernandes continued.

"He came through the academy and once more on the biggest stage in the world he showed it again.

"Congratulations to everyone, the staff, the players and all the fans, they have given us a big push. Finally, we have something to celebrate."

The Premier League season is over, Euro 2024 is approaching, and now it is time for the FA Cup final to round off the English domestic season.

Manchester City and Manchester United, as they did last season, will face off at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

City won 2-1 in June 2023, with Ilkay Gundogan's stunning volley after just 12 seconds setting the tone for a dominant performance from Pep Guardiola's side, who were en route to winning a treble.

There's no treble on the cards for City this season, though after clinching an unprecedented fourth straight Premier League title, another double is in their reach.

"We play FA Cup [and] we can do back-to-back doubles, we have [a] chance to do this," Guardiola said on Friday. "The FA Cup for itself is FA Cup, Wembley, all our fans going to London. It's the last game of season, last effort. 

"I'm impressed how well we have trained after a few days off, so focused, everyone wants to be involved, we will do our best for sure."  

United boss Erik ten Hag, meanwhile, looks set to take charge of his final game at the club, with the Red Devils reportedly having made the decision to sack him regardless of Saturday's result.

Using Opta data, here's all you need to know...

What's expected?

Unsurprisingly, Opta's model makes Man City the favourites, with a 68 per cent win likelihood. United's chances are rated at just 14.4 per cent, with a 17.7 per cent chance it finishes level after 120 minutes, meaning penalties would be needed.

City are unbeaten in their last 35 matches in all competitions (W29 D6) – it’s the second-longest run by a top-flight club in English football history, after Nottingham Forest’s run of 40 in 1978.

There has been a gulf between the rivals this season. City won both of their league meetings against United by an aggregate of 6-1. The last time they beat their neighbours three times in the same campaign was in 1969-70.

City fare well in some significant data points. They have the biggest positive difference (+83) between total shots (127) and shots faced (44) in the Premier League this season, and the biggest positive difference (+9.6) between their expected goals (xG) of 14.8 and expected goals against (xGA) of 5.2.

With City topping the Premier League and United way down in eighth, 31 points separated the rivals.

City scored the most goals in the Premier League, with 96, 29 more than United (57), whose xG was also 57.

United's defensive issues have been well-documented. Their xGA stood at a whopping 70 across their 38 league matches, with only the three relegated sides and West Ham having a worse figure, while only Sheffield United (678) allowed more shots than the Red Devils (667).

Ten Hag on the brink

United are looking to win the FA Cup for the 13th time, something only Arsenal (14) have ever done more. However, the Red Devils have failed to win the trophy in four of their last five final appearances, with the exception coming in 2016 against Crystal Palace under Louis van Gaal (2-1).

There have been six previous occasions of a side finishing 8th or lower facing that season’s champions in the showpiece – Aston Villa (10th) beat Manchester United 2-1 in 1957, but since then such sides have lost all five finals by an aggregate score of 15-0.

United have won five of their last seven FA Cup games against City. However, both defeats in that run have come in games at Wembley (2011 semi-final, 2023 final).

The Red Devils have lost six of their last seven meetings with City in all competitions (W1), including each of the last three in a row. They last lost four consecutively against them between 2013 and 2014.

United have lost 19 games and conceded 84 goals in all competitions this season. They last lost 20 in a campaign in 1973-74 (22) and last conceded more than 84 in 1963-64 (89).

This is only the second time in FA Cup history the same fixture has been played in the final in consecutive years, after Blackburn Rovers v Queen's Park Rangers in 1884 and 1885, and the sensible money would be on City repeating their victory from last year.

Serial winners

Much has been said of City's dominance in the Premier League, but Guardiola's team just have to be lauded for their incredible hunger to keep winning.

City could complete the league title and FA Cup double for the third time, something only previously achieved by Manchester United (1993-94, 1995-96 and 1998-99) and Arsenal (1970-71, 1997-98 and 2001-02). The Citizens did so in 2018-19 and 2022-23 and thus could become the first team to do so in consecutive campaigns.

They are aiming to win the FA Cup for the eighth time and for the first time ever in consecutive years.

Guardiola's side have won each of their last 11 matches in the FA Cup; excluding byes and void games, there have only been two longer winning runs in the competition’s history – Blackburn Rovers (20 between 1883 and 1886) and Chelsea (13 between 2009 and 2011).

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Man City: Erling Haaland

Phil Foden is the Premier League Player of the Year, while he has been involved in 10 goals in his last nine appearances in all competitions, scoring nine and assisting one. He has also netted six goals in his last five games against United, while only against Brighton (eight) has he scored more career goals than his six against the Red Devils.

Yet it is Haaland who United's ramshackle defence will be most fearful of.

Haaland is the top-scoring Premier League player in all competitions this season with 38 goals. He netted 52 times last season and could become the first Premier League player to score 40+ in consecutive campaigns.

He has also been involved in nine goals in five appearances against United in all competitions (six goals, three assists), more than he has against any other side as a City player.

Man Utd: Bruno Fernandes 

Fernandes scored from the penalty spot for United in last season's FA Cup final.

He could become the fifth United player to score in the showpiece in two different years, after Bryan Robson (1983 and 1990), Norman Whiteside (1983 and 1985), Mark Hughes (1990 and 1994) and Eric Cantona (1994 and 1996).

Marcus Rashford, having been left out of the England squad for Euro 2024, will be looking to offer a reminder of his qualities, too.

Bruno Fernandes says Manchester United must "finish the season in the best way" following their 3-2 win over Newcastle United.

The United youngsters played starring roles, with Kobbie Mainoo, Amad Diallo and Rasmus Hojlund getting all three goals to close the gap to Newcastle in the table.

Anthony Gordon and Lewis Hall both netted for the Magpies, with the latter setting up a nervy finish with his stoppage-time effort, but their lack of clinical edge meant United earned all three points.

Erik ten Hag’s side avoided a third consecutive defeat, and what would have been a record-breaking 10th home loss of the season, and Fernandes insists they must find a way to finish positively. 

Speaking to Sky Sports, the United captain said: "Obviously the job isn’t finished yet. We still have one game in the Premier League, then the biggest game of the season, the FA Cup final.

"It has been a tough season. The table shows that, and we are all aware of that. The fans have been amazing and behind us all season. We all appreciate what they have been doing for us.

"We want to do better and do differently. They [fans] have been amazing for us, and we had to do something. We have been trying, but results don’t show that. We have been working hard and everyone has been giving their best. It is not enough, and we have to do more.

"We still have two games to go, and we have to finish in the best way.

"It doesn’t exist, a captain's performance, it is a team performance. I am no different from anyone just because I have the armband. I always try my best, and we always do the best we can for the club – nobody hides that we play for a big club, and we have to lift our standards every game."

Despite returning to winning ways, United have now conceded 58 Premier League goals this season, their most across a single campaign in the competition.

Ten Hag was keen to turn the focus away from their struggling defence and onto the attacking players instead.

"Fantastic. Great goals. But it was a team effort how we made the goals. But I'm always happy at young players who are progressing very good and scored some brilliant goals," he told BBC Sport.

"Newcastle have a lot of physical power, and you have to match that, but you also have to play football. We had found the really good balance in this.

"It's always nice to win any game. It's important to win the last game at Old Trafford this season. The fans deserve this because they've had difficult times and always stayed with us.

"We are here together. We wanted to pay the fans back."

 

Bruno Fernandes hinted he may leave Manchester United in the close season, but insisted he will not consider his future until after the European Championship.

The United skipper has been one of the Red Devils' standout performers during a tricky campaign for Erik ten Hag's side, who are sixth in the Premier League and six points behind fifth-place Tottenham with three games remaining.

Fernandes has chipped in with 26 direct goal involvements (15 goals, 11 assists) - the most by any United player - and became the first player to create over 100 chances in the Premier League this term during Saturday's 1-1 draw with Burnley.

The club are reportedly prepared to sell most of their top players in the close season under the new Jim Ratcliffe regime, though the Portugal international is still under contract at Old Trafford until June 2026.

With the European Championship and an FA Cup final against Manchester City on the horizon, the 29-year-old says that remains his top priority and he will focus on his future further down the line.

"I'm not thinking about other things at the moment. Obviously, it doesn't just depend on me, does it?" he told DAZN Portugal.

"A player always has to want to be here, but at the same time, you have to want him to stay. At the moment, I feel there's that on both sides.

"I'm not thinking too much about the future, not least because this season hasn't been at the level I’d hoped for - either individually or collectively - so far.

"If I have to think about not continuing in the Premier League, it won't be until after the Euros. Nothing will be able to take my focus away from the FA Cup final and the Euros, as there's nothing more important than that at the moment."

Erik ten Hag urged his players not to get complacent against a Burnley side who are still fighting for their place in the Premier League.

After a run of four games without a win in the top-flight, Manchester United came from behind with late goals from Bruno Fernandes and Rasmus Hojlund to beat bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United on Wednesday.

The Red Devils sit in sixth place on 53 points, three more than Newcastle United below them, but have not yet secured a place in Europe next season.

When asked what kind of challenge Burnley would pose, Ten Hag was full of praise for the way Vincent Kompany has set up his team.

“They play high-intensity football. They have changed their approach slightly in the season. They have had good results and are hard to beat, and all the compliments to Vincent and his staff.

“We can’t afford to think [it’s only X] about any opponent. With the team we have available, we have to be creative. We have to take every opponent with 100% focus. We can’t allow and do a little bit less.”

Burnley’s survival hopes were given a huge boost last weekend with an impressive 4-1 win against Sheffield United, leaving them just three points behind Nottingham Forest in 17th.

With just four games left of the season, Kompany highlighted the characteristics have kept the Clarets within touching distance of the teams around them.

He said: “The biggest thing is consistency, hard work and making sure to not get distracted by the outside noise has been the main factor. We haven't found the recipe for Champions League football yet, but we are improving every game.

"I know we still have a chance and that's all that matters to me, whether it's two teams, three teams or four teams still in it, it doesn't matter too much to me.”

The current Premier League season has become the most goal-laden 20-team campaign in the competition's history, with Harry Maguire the unlikely man to seal 2023-24's place in history.

Maguire scored Manchester United's first equaliser as they twice fought from behind to clinch a 4-2 win over Sheffield United on Wednesday, with Bruno Fernandes netting twice in the second half.

The centre-back's 42nd-minute header was a significant moment, representing the 1,085th goal scored in the Premier League this term.

That is the most ever scored in a season containing 20 teams, since 1995-96.

The 2022-23 season saw 1,084 goals scored, a tally that was reached on the final day to surpass the previous 20-team record of 1,072, set in 2018-19.

It was somewhat fitting for the record-breaking goal to be conceded by Sheffield United, who have certainly played their part in making 2023-24 the most goal-laden season to date. 

The Blades have now shipped 92 goals this term, the most ever conceded in a 38-game Premier League campaign. 

With four games to come, including a rematch with a Newcastle United team that thrashed them 8-0 earlier this campaign, the prospect of Chris Wilder's men bringing up triple figures is a realistic one.

Erik ten Hag claims Manchester United will have over-achieved if they win the FA Cup this season.

Ten Hag and his team have faced criticism after edging past Championship side Coventry on penalties in the semi-finals, having been 3-0 up with 20 minutes to go.

They will take on Manchester City in a repeat of last year’s final hoping to exact revenge and, despite their league struggles, Ten Hag was bullish about what that would mean.

United could miss out on European football altogether, but the Red Devils boss believes the club’s struggles with injury this campaign are a major mitigating factor.

“I would say it’s over-performing with all the problems we have had,” said the Dutchman of the possibility of silverware.

“Getting into the final is already a big achievement, but we are here for trophies. We have an opportunity to win a trophy and that is good. But we are not satisfied by being in the final, we want to win it and that is what we will go for and it’s our mentality.

“That is why we are successful. That’s why I am successful over 10 years as a manager, I always bring out the maximum of each squad.”

Ten Hag was in a combative mood in the press room ahead of Wednesday’s Premier League clash with Sheffield United, branding the media reaction to his side’s cup display “embarrassing” and “a disgrace”.

Many fans were also critical and Ten Hag added of the late collapse: “We were not happy with it. I can see the fans are not happy with it as well, but they get fed by opinions.

“But all over, what I heard is that the fans are very happy we are again in the FA Cup final. Even for Manchester United, it is not business as usual, they were not so often in the FA Cup final and they were never in the FA Cup final two times in a row.”

United’s injury problems continued on Sunday, with Alejandro Garnacho, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and Scott McTominay all picking up issues, and the latter two are doubtful for Wednesday.

Casemiro could again be required in defence, while United’s bench at the weekend featured five teenagers.

“We will put a team out that is capable of winning the match, even if we have to be really creative,” said Ten Hag.

One of the players who will be hoping for a start is 21-year-old Amad Diallo, who has featured five times as a substitute over the past couple of months.

“Amad deserves it, but don’t forget he had a long period in the season injured, so we rebuilt him and now he has had some opportunities and a real contribution,” said Ten Hag.

“He played in a position that is not his best position. He started as a striker and then he had to play in the midfield, so he did well. We have a number of players in that area, there is big competition.

“But I am very happy with his performances and his progress, I see his qualities and his assets can really contribute to our game.”

Erik ten Hag refused to entertain a question about potentially overseeing Manchester United’s worst Premier League season and has not given up on Champions League qualification.

Seventh-placed United suffered another setback in an underwhelming campaign after requiring a Bruno Fernandes brace to scrape a scarcely-deserved 2-2 draw at Bournemouth.

United have never finished below their current position since the league’s inception in 1992.

“I don’t comment on that question,” replied Ten Hag as he walked out of his post-match press conference when asked about the prospect of ending below seventh place.

“That is not important at the moment.”

Ten Hag’s men were tormented by impressive Bournemouth for much of an uninspiring outing at Vitality Stadium and twice trailed in the first half following goals from Cherries pair Dominic Solanke and Justin Kluivert.

United, who have a lengthy injury list, particularly in defence, sit 10 points adrift of the top four with only six games remaining on the back of just one win from seven matches.

Asked if the Champions League places were now beyond his team, Ten Hag replied: “No. I didn’t say that.

“We give what we can but I am also realistic, so when the full squad was there, I still would have said I believe.

“But we will keep fighting with the players who are available and you can see there is high potential.

“But also young players they make mistakes. They have proved they can compete with the best teams on the highest level but now they have to do it consistently. There is always the next step for young players.”

Solanke and Kluivert each capitalised on passive United defending to fire beyond Andre Onana, while Bournemouth also missed a host of first-half chances and struck the crossbar through Milos Kerkez.

Fernandes briefly levelled between those strikes and, having hit the bar from distance, equalised for a second time with a 65th-minute penalty after Adam Smith was punished for handling Kobbie Mainoo’s harmless deflected effort.

United looked set to face a stoppage-time penalty before breathing a sigh of relief when VAR intervened to rule Willy Kambwala’s challenge on Ryan Christie was outside the 18-yard box.

Ten Hag, who revealed centre-back Harry Maguire played with an injury issue in the first half, dismissed the suggestion his players are lacking motivation.

“I have been in football a very long time and they are very motivated,” said the Dutchman.

“We are motivated but the organisation wasn’t right and we lost balls where we shouldn’t and the pressure of the opponent.

“But our players are better than this.

“The good thing is we returned twice from losing positions. The spirit is good, the resilience is good.”

Bournemouth boss Andoni Iraola questioned the consistency of top-flight officiating after falling agonisingly short of securing his club’s first league double over the 20-time English champions.

The Spaniard felt Kambwala’s challenge on Christie continued into United’s 18-yard box and deemed Smith’s handball “very harsh”.

“It’s not only about the important decisions,” said the Premier League’s manager of the month for March.

“It’s about Kobbie Mainoo diving in the first half, nothing happens; Ryan Christie, with much more contact, dives in the second half, yellow card. It’s about consistency.

“We are safe, yes, but you have to value our points, the same way you value United’s points – in the same exact way.

“The last decision, for the VAR to intervene for something that should be clear and obvious, the first touch between the players can be one centimetre outside, it has to be clear, but it’s obvious he continues making the offence inside and doesn’t allow Ryan to finish the play.”

Speaking of Smith’s handball, Iraola said: “It’s very harsh. It’s coming from his own team-mate, a rebound.

“You are two metres away, you don’t have time to do anything. They are going in the right way with the handballs because at one moment they were calling everything but today they changed their way of refereeing.

“At the end, one point against United is always important. But if anyone deserved to win today, it was clearly Bournemouth.”

Bournemouth had an added-time penalty award overturned by VAR as disjointed Manchester United escaped Vitality Stadium with a scarcely-deserved 2-2 draw thanks to Bruno Fernandes’ brace.

Referee Tony Harrington pointed to the spot five minutes beyond the 90 when Ryan Christie went down under a challenge from Willy Kambwala before changing his decision to a free-kick on review.

Erik ten Hag’s men were tormented for much of an uninspiring performance in Dorset and twice trailed in the first half following goals from Cherries pair Dominic Solanke and Justin Kluivert.

Fernandes volleyed home his first equaliser against the run of play before denying the impressive hosts a maiden league double over the 20-time English champions by converting a 65th-minute penalty after Adam Smith inexplicably handled.

United’s Portuguese captain also rattled the crossbar with a stunning strike from distance at 2-1 down in stoppage time at the end of an exhilarating opening period.

Yet outstanding Bournemouth, who hit the woodwork through Milos Kerkez and wasted numerous other chances, should have have been out of sight by then.

United move on to a Wembley FA Cup semi-final against Coventry sitting seventh in the table and with European qualification for next term still far from assured following another disappointing display of an unconvincing season, which extended their winless run to four top-flight games.

Cole Palmer scored a sensational hat-trick as Chelsea struck twice in the final minutes of stoppage time to beat Manchester United 4-3 at Stamford Bridge.

United were 3-2 up and seemingly home and dry when Noni Madueke was felled by Diogo Dalot in the seventh minute of added time. Palmer scored from the penalty spot to seemingly rescue a point – but a stunning finale awaited.

The former Manchester City player – a United fan as a youngster – was given space inside the box and lashed it beyond Andre Onana with virtually the final kick, with the aid of a slight deflection off United’s Scott McTominay.

Their side had looked like running away with the Premier League contest in the first period, Conor Gallagher and Palmer from the penalty spot putting them into a 2-0 lead inside 20 minutes.

But a horrendous error from Moises Caicedo gifted United a way back, Alejandro Garnacho netting his first before Bruno Fernandes nodded unmarked past Djordje Petrovic to level before the break.

A breathless second half could have seen either side win it, and Garnacho looked to have done it for United when he headed in a brilliant cross from Antony midway through the half.

Then came scarcely believable drama at the end, with Palmer’s double sparking joyous scenes among home supporters.

Chelsea had looked irresistible for much of the first half and raced into a deserved lead.

First, Enzo Fernandez scooped a delicious ball into the right channel for the overlapping Malo Gusto. His low cutback pinged off the heel of Raphael Varane, spinning favourably into the path of Gallagher whose first-time drive slithered beneath Onana’s outstretched hand and into the net.

The second goal came from a similarly neat move down the other flank, this time Marc Cucurella feeding Mykhailo Mudryk who bolted onto it and flicked the ball back inside to Cucurella. Across to challenge came Antony, felling the Chelsea defender with an artless trip. Palmer dinked his penalty into the bottom corner with consummate ease.

United struggled with the pace and directness of Chelsea’s transitions but the hosts’ control of the game was punctured on 34 minutes.

Caicedo sensed Antony lurking on his shoulder and played a hurried, careless ball square that sold Benoit Badiashile short. Garnacho was onto it like a flash, tearing clear of the hapless Chelsea pair and slotting past Petrovic.

Onana pushed out Fernandez’s low hit and had to be bailed out by Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who shovelled the rebound away from Mykhailo Mudryk as Chelsea quickly resumed their assault.

But the goal had swung the game towards United and they were soon level. Antony swept the ball wide to Garnacho, who stood up Cucurella and knocked it back for Diogo Dalot. His cross whizzed across the box to Fernandes, arriving unmarked at the far post, to wipe out Chelsea’s lead.

Gallagher rattled the post when set up by Palmer late in the half, though they were clearly stunned by United’s rapid double and looked grateful to go in level at the break.

The second half was a gung-ho battle between defence and attack. At times, the midfield simply vanished as both sides ripped into each other, and by the hour mark either could have led, Fernandes and Palmer with the clearest chances lashed over as the game hummed with energy, coaxing a winner.

It looked to have arrived from Garnacho. Antony’s cross, whipped with the outside of his left boot, was elegant and pinpoint. Chelsea had two defenders back but neither tracked the run of Garnacho, who stooped bravely to reach the ball before Petrovic and guide it into the corner. The United fans, including new Kansas City Chiefs recruit Louis Rees-Zammit, were delighted.

It looked like staying that way until the final minute of stoppage time, when Palmer’s dramatic double sealed an astonishing turnaround.

Portugal made light work of Sweden to seal an 11th straight victory with a 5-2 win in Thursday's friendly.

Roberto Martinez's team did not let up after Rafael Leao lashed them ahead in the 24th minute, with Matheus Nunes and Bruno Fernandes putting them three to the good by half-time.

Bruma made matters worse for Sweden before in-form Sporting CP forward Viktor Gyokeres netted at the other end, albeit that goal should have been disallowed for offside.

Goncalo Ramos rounded off Portugal's rout just after the hour, though Gustaf Nilsson did grab another consolation for Sweden in the final stages.

Leao's strike was just his fourth for the Selecao, with the winger hitting his shot sweetly after controlling the rebound from Bernardo Silva's effort off the woodwork.

Portugal's control was cemented just after the half-hour mark, as Silva set up his Manchester City team-mate Nunes for a composed finish from outside the box.

Sweden were punished for more slack defending on the stroke of half-time – Fernandes left free in the six-yard box to power a shot high into the back of the net, taking his international tally to 20 goals.

The hosts started the second half with the same intensity, and Fernandes' pressure paid off when he blocked a clearance and set Bruma up for a tap-in. Just 91 seconds later, Gyokeres pulled one back for Sweden from an offside position, but with no VAR, the goal stood.

Ramos restored Portugal's four-goal lead shortly after, with his eighth goal in 10 international appearances adding further gloss to another fine win under Martinez, though Nilsson – who had earlier tested Rui Patricio with an audacious attempt – ensured Sweden had the final word.

No Ronaldo, no problem

Portugal were without their biggest star in Guimaraes, with Cristiano Ronaldo the most notable absence from the team sheet. But it is not like they struggled without the 39-year-old.

The Selecao have scored 36 goals in their perfect Euro 2024 qualifying campaign, the most of any nation during that time, and they clocked up another five with ease.

Perhaps even more pleasing to their coach, the goals were spread among his midfield and forward line, with Bruma also coming off the bench to make an impact.

They might have gone under the radar, but Portugal could be the ones to watch in Germany come June.

Tomasson's big changes fail to pay off

After playing in a rigid 4-4-2 formation under Janne Andersson, Sweden deployed a more attacking set-up under Jon Dahl Tomasson on Thursday, with Newcastle United star Alexander Isak playing behind Gyokeres, who is thriving in Portugal this season.

It showed the promise of paying off in the second half, with Gyokeres getting his goal just before the hour-mark, but by then it was already too late for them to mount a real comeback, and Nilsson's effort did nothing more than restore a tad more pride.

Three of Portugal's goals were simple tap-ins, with the Selecao's scorers left with an empty net to aim for, and that slack defending will frustrate Tomasson. 

Bruno Fernandes says Manchester United need to knuckle down, rack up wins and improve in possession as they attempt to sneak into the Champions League spots.

This has been a season to forget for Erik ten Hag’s side, who put back-to-back Premier League defeats behind them by edging past relegation-threatened Everton 2-0 on Saturday lunchtime.

First half penalties from Fernandes and Marcus Rashford decided the contest at Old Trafford, with the former calling on United to ignore background noise and focus on themselves during the run-in.

Put to the Red Devils skipper that it feels like every match feels like a big game right now, he told MUTV: “It is actually.

“Obviously we know that this season is not being (as) good as we want, so we want to improve as much as we can until the end of the season.

“Improve obviously position-wise because we want to try to get as close as possible to the Champions League spots.

“We know that we don’t depend only on ourselves, but we have to do our job like we did today and win our games.”

United remain sixth after beating Everton and sit eight points behind fourth-placed Aston Villa, who host Tottenham – the team between them – on Sunday.

Fifth could yet prove enough for Champions League qualification but the Red Devils will be relying on other teams to improve England’s UEFA coefficient.

United have 10 Premier League matches remaining and now turn their attention to keeping alive their hopes of ending a season to forget with silverware.

Ten Hag’s men host Liverpool in the FA Cup quarter-finals next weekend, when a repeat of the kind of sloppiness seen against Everton, particularly in the first half, could lead to an ugly outcome.

“No one gives the ball away on purpose,” Fernandes told Stadium Astro.

“So, you miss the pass, sometimes it doesn’t go the way you want.

“Obviously, we need to get high focus in these kind of games (against Everton) because we know they have a really strong counter-press and a really strong counter-attack.

“We know that every ball that they could recover, they will try to get their space and their time to have their chances.

“But I think overall the performance was good, obviously there’s always margin to improve.

“I think keeping more on the ball, more spells with more passes, trying to play higher on the pitch in their half, keep the ball there and then still creating a lot of chances that we create today.”

United take on a Liverpool side whose FA Cup progress led next weekend’s Merseyside derby to be postponed.

That means Everton have three weeks to stew on an 11th successive winless Premier League match, with boss Sean Dyche taking his team on a European training camp next week.

“We want to remind the players of the good side of these performances while putting that demand on the next part of it,” said the Everton manager, whose side return to action at Bournemouth on March 30.

“So, what is it that changes this situation? What is it that occurs when we take responsibility? That’s where we’re trying to get to. That will certainly be part of the demand of these next three weeks.

“We’re all together, make no mistake about that. I lead it. I’ve got no problem with that.

“We’ve got to stay with the consistency of what we’re doing while adding… the only way I can describe it is the will and demand to get hurt to score a goal, where it means that much that you will score a goal.

“When you get tight then, of course, a bit of that freedom can go, but we’re the only ones who can change it.”

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag hailed the defensive discipline of his team despite them once again conceding more than 20 shots in their 2-0 Premier League victory over Everton.

James Tarkowski hacked down Alejandro Garnacho  inside the box 12 minutes in and Bruno Fernandes tucked into the right corner from the resulting spot kick to put United 1-0 to the good.

Garnacho won another penalty in the 34th minute after Ben Godfrey flew in on the Argentinian and this time Fernandes handed the ball to Marcus Rashford who sent Jordan Pickford the wrong way for his seventh goal of the season.

Everton continued to press in the second period but their 23 shots were in vein as United bounced back from two defeats on the spin.

Manchester City had 27 shots at their goal while winning the derby last week, but after allowing a number of chances again today, ten Hag said: “If you see their xG is not that high and ours is much higher.

“It is their gameplan, obviously. We have players who feel comfortable to defend low. But you have to be disciplined and you have to incorporate it very well.

“It was a team performance, especially our back four with the keeper and Casemiro. They have done very well.

“You see the chances, they had some, also I think the way we defended set-plays was very good.

“We were really organised and we were focused – everyone did their job. There was one or two second phases where they we had some opportunities, but all over we did quite well.”

Garnacho went over in the box to win both penalties and was by far United’s best player in another sub-par performance at Old Trafford.

Boss ten Hag expressed his joy of working with the Argentinian but knows there are still vast areas to improve.

He added: “I love to work with Garnacho and many other players in the squad but he is a player who likes a challenge. Brave, confident and our job is to push him to high level but he is doing this. He has high potential.

“When you are young you don’t know what it is to play in a high competitive league and perform every third day.

“You don’t know you have to perform every training session. You need a lot of skills to be the best.”

Everton’s woes in front of goal continued despite their best efforts, including good chances from Abdoulaye Doucoure, Amadou Onana and Dwight McNeil.

The Toffees have scored just 14 open play goals this season and boss Sean Dyche knows his side have to find confidence in front of goal.

He said: “Very frustrating, as you can imagine and we have had a run of that where we have been performing correctly in so many ways.

“The most important thing is the scoreline, that’s the biggest stat and we’ve got on the wrong side of it, we have to work on it.

“I don’t know what teams have come here and had that many efforts on goal and chances but we’ve got to get hurt to score goals as sometimes Brian Clough used to say. That’s what I’m not seeing.

“They are working, the shape is good, the football played is pleasing and so it’s frustrating to not see that come to fruition with scoring more goals because they’re doing a lot right.”

Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford struck from the spot as sloppy Manchester United rode their luck in an unconvincing 2-0 win against relegation-threatened Everton.

Erik ten Hag’s side stuttered on Saturday lunchtime but managed to end a run of back-to-back Premier League defeats and keep their Champions League qualification quest alive.

United struggled for large periods against out-of-form Everton, who had 23 shots but paid the price for twice shooting themselves in the foot in the first half.

James Tarkowski clumsily brought down Alejandro Garnacho after a bright Toffees start, with captain Fernandes converting the resulting spot-kick in front of the Stretford End.

Sean Dyche’s men settled and continued to threaten, only to be punished by a Rashford penalty after Ben Godfrey fouled lively Argentina international Garnacho.

United continued to offer Everton a way back into the match but they failed to capitalise – something you would not expect Liverpool to struggle with in next weekend’s FA Cup quarter-final.

The Toffees began this topsy-turvy encounter on top, but the sleepy hosts still managed a couple of efforts before taking a 12th minute lead at Old Trafford.

Tarkowski caught Garnacho as he cut back and, after a swift VAR check, Fernandes’ hit a spot-kick just out of Jordan Pickford’s reach into the bottom right-hand corner.

Dwight McNeil volleyed narrowly wide as Everton looked to put that disappointment behind them, with United academy graduate James Garner testing Andre Onana before Amadou Onana mishit the follow-up.

McNeil lasered across the face of goal as Everton continued to prove a nuisance, although that effort came shortly after Pickford stopped Fernandes scoring his second.

The United skipper took aim with a 22 yard free-kick that was heading home in front of the Stretford End until a one-handed stop that drew applause around the ground.

But Pickford can only do so much, and Everton were soon made to rue their missed opportunities.

Godfrey’s clumsy attempt to halt Garnacho drive led referee Simon Hooper to point to the spot, with Rashford stepping up to send his England team-mate the wrong way.

Everton were perhaps fortunate not to concede a third penalty before half-time after Vitalii Mykolenko stopped a Garnacho a cutback with an arm.

United, too, walked a fine line in the closing stages of the first half, with Jonny Evans coughing up possession and McNeil seeing a strike blocked.

Play continued in a similarly open, chaotic pattern after the break.

Abdoulaye Doucoure was denied by Andre Onana at his near post in-between Garnacho lashing narrowly over and just failing to cleanly meet a teasing Fernandes cross.

The United skipper saw a low shot tipped around the post by Pickford, who did well to stop United stabbing home during a melee from the corner that followed.

Andre Onana had to deal with pinball in his own box soon after and United just avoided an Everton goal in the 76th minute.

Godfrey’s header was met by a Lewis Dobbin cross-shot that just evaded fellow substitute Dominic Calvert-Lewin at the far post.

Everton continued to knock at the door and United tried to expose the gaps they were leaving, but neither side had the quality to add to the scoreline.

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag accused Nottingham Forest of targeting Bruno Fernandes in his side’s FA Cup win at the City Ground and branded criticism of his captain “pathetic”.

The Portugal midfielder overcame a “serious injury” to play his part in United’s 1-0 victory at Forest, setting up Casemiro’s 89th-minute winner from a free-kick.

He was on the receiving end of plenty of robust challenges from Forest throughout the 90 minutes while also being the butt of social media jokes after Saturday’s loss against Fulham where he suffered the problem.

Fulham’s official TikTok account poked fun at him for appearing to feign injury and it got Ten Hag’s back up.

Asked about the severity of Fernandes’ injury, he said: “I don’t want to go into that because you saw that Forest was targeting him, so I don’t tell what he has but it was a serious injury.

“There were many fouls on him. Maybe I am a little bit too tough but when he has the ball they were really tight on him.

“Then I see that serious media criticise him and social media is pathetic and it can’t be.

“He has a serious injury but he continued to play on Saturday and today he also fought to be part of the game and he has a very high pain threshold.

“Last year he did also something similar against Spurs and in the semi-final and it shows his leadership because that expresses his character and that is very good when you are a leader.”

This was far from a classic performance by United, who face Manchester City in the Premier League on Sunday, but they got the job done and kept hopes of finishing the season with a trophy in tact.

That is not going to be easy, though, as they were handed quarter-final draw against Liverpool at Old Trafford in two and a half weeks.

“There are many good teams in the Premier League, Liverpool at this moment is top but it is a great challenge and we are really looking forward and we like the challenges, it is a great game for us to play.

“But first of all we are now looking forward to Sunday.”

Extra time was looming when Casemiro glanced Fernandes’ delivery past Matt Turner to send United’s travelling contingent wild.

The goal survived a lengthy VAR check as Raphael Varane, who was in an offside possession, blocked a couple of Forest players, but he was ruled not to be interfering in play.

Such has been Forest’s frustration at refereeing decisions in recent weeks, they have appointed Mark Clattenburg to act as a conduit to the PGMOL and he was spotted sat next to Howard Webb.

And this was another decision that went against them but boss Nuno Espirito Santo, who swatted away Ten Hag’s suggestions of targeting Fernandes, did not want to dwell on it.

Nuno said: “I didn’t see clearly the images but speaking with the players they say it is a block and a possible offside. They checked it.

“We have had so many issues in this period with VAR and referees that we try to forget about it and move forward.

“I think it was a good performance, we played good, much better than the previous game, so improvement from that.

“It is frustrating to lose it in the end but I think we played good, football is cruel sometimes and today we are on that side.”

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