Bruno Fernandes hopes to harness his creative genius to help Portugal team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo become the record international goalscorer.

Ronaldo scored twice against Sweden earlier this month to move on to 101 goals for his country, putting him eight behind Ali Daei.

Naturally, the Juventus star has his sights set on overtaking the Iran legend and Fernandes, who on Friday was named Manchester United's player of the year, is on hand to help.

"For me, and I think for most of the people now, it's normal," he told United Review of Ronaldo surpassing a century of goals in Portugal colours.

"You see when someone watches the games, if he doesn't score, for everyone, it is a bad game because, normally, he always scores.

"You wait for a goal from him or for him to do something different. Of course, I'm really happy to have a chance to play alongside him and I hope he can achieve the record he wants, for sure.

"Maybe I can help him to achieve that record with the national team."

United kick off their Premier League campaign at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday in a match that will be played behind closed doors, with coronavirus restrictions still in place.

Fernandes, who received 35.5 per cent of the vote from United fans to win the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award for 2019-20, lamented the absence of supporters at matches, but said he still felt the adoration of the club's followers.

"We have a lot of fans of Manchester United and I can feel all the love they have to give you on social media, on the streets and everywhere really," said Fernandes, revealing he had discussed the issue with Ronaldo.

"I think, now, the most important thing is for everyone to be healthy and, as soon as possible, everybody will be able to come to the stadium.

"Football without fans is not like a football game, you know. I sat with Cristiano to talk about it after the game with the national team.

"It's like streets without cars. It's not a street.

"I don't know how to say it but we need to have fans in the stadiums. I don't know how but I think it will be important for everyone – for the players, for the game, for the fans.

"It will also be important for them. I hope it's sooner rather than later when we can have the fans back at the stadium."

The new 2020-21 season is really kicking into gear as Premier League matchweek two approaches.

After prior European commitments delayed Manchester City and Manchester United starting their respective campaigns, there is a full slate of matches this weekend.

That means there is plenty of opportunity for fantasy managers to make up for missing out on Mohamed Salah, Jamie Vardy or even Jeff Hendrick last week.

Need to get back on track or build on a strong start? This Opta-powered selection provides some must-haves for the coming round of matches.

 

EMILIANO MARTINEZ

Picking an Arsenal goalkeeper heading into the campaign was slightly risky business with two vying for the first-choice spot. Fortunately, with Emiliano Martinez leaving for Aston Villa, the matter has been settled.

From his first start last season on June 25, following Bernd Leno's injury, Martinez made more saves (31) than any other top-flight keeper and only trailed Nick Pope (85.3) and Ederson (81.8) in terms of save percentage (81.1). He kept three clean sheets, too.

Only Bournemouth and Norwich City - both relegated - managed fewer clean sheets than Villa's seven last term, yet one of those came at home to Monday's visitors Sheffield United.

 

LUCAS DIGNE

Everton left-back Lucas Digne was certainly worth having on the opening weekend. He contributed to a clean sheet at Tottenham and also supplied the assist for Dominic Calvert-Lewin's decisive goal.

But that display was no one-off.

Only Liverpool pair Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson (both 13) have more Premier League assists from defence than Digne (eight) since the start of the 2019-20 campaign.

Over that same spell, the Frenchman ranks second for chances created (73) and passes played into the box (320) by defenders and third (150) in terms of open-play crosses. He can test out that supply line at home to West Brom.

 

TARIQ LAMPTEY

Although beaten against former club Chelsea last time out, Tariq Lamptey continues to show himself to be an all-round package for Brighton and Hove Albion.

From right-back, the 19-year-old has created the most chances from open play (eight - tied with two others), supplied the most crosses (24), completed the most dribbles (17) and made the most interceptions (19) of any Brighton player since June 2020.

If Brighton get a result at Newcastle United, Lamptey is likely to be in the points.

 

WILLIAN

New signing Willian gave Arsenal fans and fantasy managers alike a taste of what they can expect on opening day.

At Fulham, he became the first player to contribute two assists on his Premier League debut for Arsenal since Ray Parlour against Liverpool in August 1992.

Since June 2020, Willian trails only Robertson (six) in terms of assists (four) and Kevin De Bruyne (40) for chances created (28), with struggling West Ham up next at home.

 

BRUNO FERNANDES

Joining in January, Bruno Fernandes quickly established himself as a star fantasy performer last season. There is little reason to suggest he will not be similarly effective this term.

The Manchester United midfielder has been involved in 20 goals (including eight assists) in all competitions since his arrival from Sporting CP, the most of any of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's players.

Indeed, Fernandes leads the way across the whole Premier League in that regard, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (17 involvements) second. United face Crystal Palace.

 

HARRY KANE

Tottenham talisman Harry Kane has tended to start Premier League seasons slowly, but his record against Southampton - this week's opponents - is particularly impressive.

The England captain has nine goals in his past nine league games against the Saints, only tallying more often in clashes with Leicester City (14) and Arsenal (10).

Kane will no doubt be determined to continue that scoring streak this weekend, having suffered a torn hamstring at Southampton in January that checked his 2019-20 campaign.

 

JAMIE VARDY

Needed to check he has still got it? Vardy again proved his worth with a brace for Leicester against West Brom last week.

Those strikes improved his total since the start of last season to 25 in the league, while he also leads the way for shot conversion rates (27.47 per cent) among those with 10 or more goals in that time.

Even at 33, it is too early to write off Vardy, who will aim to dampen Burnley's new-season optimism on Sunday.

Bruno Fernandes lauded Portugal team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo after his 100th and 101st international goals secured a 2-0 Nations League win at Sweden.

Ronaldo came into the Nations League match looking for a milestone strike at international level and the superstar captain reached a century of Portugal goals just before half-time on in Stockholm Tuesday.

Gustav Svensson was sent off for a second bookable offence, allowing Ronaldo to fire in a stunning free-kick to celebrate his 100th Portugal goal.

Portugal were in complete control but needed a second goal of similarly high quality from the five-time Ballon d'Or winner to make the points safe in the Group A3 encounter.

Manchester United midfielder Fernandes said: "We know that [with Ronaldo] it is easier to reach the goal.

"He has a nose for goal and can solve a game at any time.

"That was what happened before half-time, in a free-kick situation. Just yesterday he had six or seven like that in training and today he did the same.

"It's great to have Cristiano. He makes any team stronger."

Portugal could not match the four goals they ran in against Croatia last week, though, and Fernandes added: "We managed the game well, we knew how to take advantage of opportunities.

"We could have scored more goals, but we are happy here, because we took what was important and we are at the top of the group."

Jesper Olsen believes Manchester United should continue to pursue a deal for Jadon Sancho as he hailed the quality of the Borussia Dortmund star.

United have been strongly linked with a move for Dortmund and England sensation Sancho, though his club have repeatedly insisted the 20-year-old will not be sold ahead of the 2020-21 season.

Sancho established himself as one of the hottest properties in European football last term after scoring 17 goals and supplying 16 assists for Bundesliga runners-up Dortmund, prompting links to the likes of Real Madrid, Liverpool and Barcelona.

As United reportedly continue to try to negotiate with Dortmund – who remain unmoved on their £108million (€120m) valuation – former Red Devils winger Olsen told Stats Perform News: "It's always difficult because you see somebody and you like what you see and you would like them to play for your team. You have to come up with the money and after that, it's only when it begins because you want them to perform.

"If you can get somebody of that class and they want to come to United, of course you pursue it to the end. I've always tended to watch a lot of German and English football, but when you look at the likes of Bayern Munich and the way they perform, you know it's going to be very hard.

"You have incredible teams at the top of Europe, so you have to have bigger squads. Any player of that calibre that can add something to the squad, of course you look for that."

While a blockbuster deal to bring Sancho to Old Trafford is proving difficult, United are poised to sign star Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is determined to bolster his squad after leading United to a third-placed finish in the Premier League last season and Champions League qualification.

United enjoyed a 14-match unbeaten streak in the league as they secured a spot in the top four, while Solskjaer's side also reached the semi-finals of the Europa League, FA Cup and EFL Cup.

"Overall, it's fantastic for Manchester United but also Ole Gunnar Solskjaer," Olsen, who won the FA Cup during his four years at United, said. "All the flack that he got for a long, long time as you do when you manage United and not doing well. But you go back to [Alex] Ferguson's era, and it takes time to build up and get the players you want, the team playing the way you want. Sadly nowadays, you don't always have the time.

"We know how difficult it is to win anything in any sport around the world. Everybody says yeah we should win, but it is so tough to win anything, even getting into the semi-finals and final. To actually win something is not easy.

"I'm happy to see them play well. They were really getting into top gear at the end of the season. For Solskjaer too, he is a good guy. He is calm and collected and I think he is the right man for sure."

Bruno Fernandes played a key role in United's resurgence following his January arrival from Sporting CP – the Portuguese midfielder scoring eight goals and supplying seven assists in the Premier League.

Fernandes also managed 12 goals across all competitions as United featured in three semi-finals in 2019-20.

"He has shown, with the way he plays – simple and effective, and just makes things happen. This is what we need. He also has a good engine," former Ajax and Denmark star Olsen said.

"He's settled down some of the younger players too. Daniel James wasn't involved so much at the end of the season but then we look at [Mason] Greenwood. That's what we call exciting players. This is what you want to see."

Doubts over David de Gea's long-term position also emerged during the season, highlighted by his errors in the FA semi-final loss to Chelsea behind closed doors at Wembley amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"I think defensively, they made mistakes at the back. Sometimes it looked a bit like the goalkeeper De Gea and the defenders didn't fully understand each other but that happens in a lot of teams. For a long, long time we played structured with a strong defence," Olsen continued. "But suddenly, a part of the season something seems to go a bit – tiredness or playing in front of empty stadiums I don't know but certainly there were some things that could be avoided.

"That happens throughout the season. I think Barcelona are going to look back against Bayern and think it was like they weren't there. For everybody, even though we say thank God they can play and finish the season, but there's so many external things that happen to players with families. Not only around themselves but family abroad. It must be a worrying time, like for all of us, for them too. And then have to go and perform and kind of say, let's forget about that even though I think they're happy they can still play because it takes away mentally some of the other things. It must be the biggest nightmare for all of us, but also to go perform in empty stadiums, it makes no sense. We have to kind of allow them to have made a few mistakes given how the world is at the moment."

United finished 33 points behind bitter rivals and champions Liverpool last term but Olsen feels the Manchester club – who have not won the league since Alex Ferguson's final campaign in 2012-13 – can challenge in 2020-21.

"This season, I thought City were going to win the league again because when you look at Pep [Guardiola]'s record. It shows, there's some games and some part of the season that you don't always perform well. Then you have the added pressure of the Champions League, which is really, really important," Olsen added. "For status but money-wise. There's a lot around the Champions League these days and that's where the bigger clubs want to be. All the excitement of playing against the best in Europe.

"I think Manchester United, certainly with Champions League qualification, can test themselves. I think anyone that goes to Old Trafford, it will be hard to win there. If you can go away now, have a settled team, a structure and play how you want to play, then I think they have as much chance as anyone else to win the Premier League and go far in the Champions League for sure."

Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes played down his row with team-mate Victor Lindelof after the Red Devils crashed out of the Europa League.

United became the first English top-flight team to fall at the semi-final stage of three different competitions within the same season following Sunday's 2-1 loss to Sevilla.

Fernandes had given United – 2019-20 FA Cup and EFL Cup semi-finalists – a ninth-minute lead from the penalty spot before Suso restored parity 17 minutes later in Cologne.

United were exposed defensively, Lindelof and Aaron Wan-Bissaka especially, when Sevilla substitute Luuk De Jong got in between the pair to score the winning goal with 12 minutes remaining.

It prompted a heated discussion as Fernandes vented his frustration with Lindelof and United's defending, but the midfielder insisted the entire squad must take responsibility.

"I think when we take a goal it is the fault from everyone, starting in the front," said Fernandes post-match.

"We can't take a goal from a throw-in in the first half, we need to be better in pressing, they can't come up so easily. After comes mistake after mistake. We are mad when we take a goal, but the fault is from everyone, not from one player to take the fall, but all the team.

"It's not about me or Victor, it's about everything. What happened between us is nothing. It's normal. It's football. It happens. It's looking out for each other.

"This thing will happen many more times in other teams. The most important thing now is seeing the mistakes we made and look forward to improving in the next games."

United had chances to restore their lead and put the game beyond doubt early in the second half, but Anthony Martial and his team-mates proved wasteful.

Sevilla, meanwhile, were clinical against United – who managed 46 shots, 21 on target, against Copenhagen and the LaLiga outfit, but only scored two goals from the penalty spot across the quarter-finals and semis.

Former Sporting CP captain Fernandes added: "I think we played well. We created a lot of chances, we need to score. We need to score more goals.

"We create a lot but if you create and you don't score it is not enough. Everyone is sad obviously, we come to win all the games, to be in the final but it was not possible.

"It is not enough because we are playing for Manchester United to win some trophies and this season I win nothing. For me it is not enough, I need to do much more."

Bruno Fernandes believes his £55million transfer fee instantly gave him the confidence boost that has subsequently led to a swift adaptation to life at Manchester United.

Fernandes joined United from Sporting CP in January after a somewhat drawn-out saga and the Portugal midfielder has had an impressive impact.

In 21 appearances across all competitions, Fernandes has scored 11 goals and set up another eight, quickly establishing himself as one of the key components in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team.

On top of that, United have lost just once since his debut at the start of February, the 3-1 FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea last month.

Solskjaer's men secured a third-place finish in the Premier League and face Sevilla for a spot in the Europa League final on Sunday and while Fernandes recognises he has had lots of support, he also feels the fee United paid gave him a boost.

"I can't say it was easy, but of course we had good results and I was scoring some goals, but for me it was easy [to adapt] because the team helped me a lot, everyone in the club helped me – the coach, staff, everyone, that gives a lot of confidence," he told reporters on Saturday.

"I already played in Italy, so I know how it is to be out of my country in different leagues. Of course, the Premier League is completely different, but I have the confidence of staff, team-mates, all the club, and I think everything is going well because when you have confidence from everyone you can do your game and your best.

"I think when a club pays for a player £55million, you have confidence from the club.

"Of course, then there are all the conversations with the manager, team-mates, and as I say before, the coach always says to do my game, try do what I did in Sporting, have the same confidence, do the same things and improve.

"When you have that voice, it's easier for you."

Sunday's opponents Sevilla, who have won the Europa League three times and twice triumphed in its previous guise of the UEFA Cup, finished fourth in LaLiga and progressed past Roma and Wolves in the past two rounds to reach the last four.

Those victories extended their unbeaten run on all fronts to 19 matches, a streak that began in February, and Solskjaer warned his players they will need to be clinical in the final third and not be intimidated by their opponents' aggressive pressing.

When asked what United need to do on Sunday, Solskjaer quipped: "Score more goals [than Sevilla].

"No, it's not as easy as that, because they're a good, very well-organised team, [use] aggressive pressing and have some very good individuals there, so we have to play our best game.

"We have to be able to keep the ball well when we can, play out of their press, be clever, creative and, of course, we have to step up in big moments – the last pass, the finish.

"These games will be decided so often on a set-piece or piece of individual brilliance by some players."

Sevilla have been boosted by the return to their squad of Nemanja Gudelj after he overcame coronavirus, and Fernandes is already planning to swap shirts with his old Sporting colleague.

"I'm happy he's healthy now," Fernandes said. "I spoke with him when he had the virus. I'm happy he can be healthy now, but tomorrow I hope I can beat him. We will change the shirts tomorrow – I'm happy for him."

Bruno Fernandes believes winning the Europa League will stand Manchester United in good stead to challenge for the Premier League title next season.

Fernandes scored from the penalty spot in extra time as United edged past Copenhagen 1-0 earlier this week to set up a Europa League semi-final with Sevilla on Sunday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United have already fallen at the semi-final stage in the EFL Cup and FA Cup this season, but January signing Fernandes is keen to put that right following his side's third-placed finish in the Premier League.

"I think it's so important to win because every player needs to understand how it is to win a trophy for Manchester United," Fernandes is quoted as saying by several British newspapers.

"For the coach, it will be important and for the players because I think we've done very well until now.

"I think if we finish with a trophy, it will not be perfect, but it will be a good year for us because Manchester United needs to come back again to win some trophies and fight for the European competitions and also the league. Finishing well now is a good start for next season."

United's last major honour was the 2017 Europa League and Fernandes is hopeful that two more victories in this season's tournament in Germany will be the catalyst for further success for Solskjaer's young squad.

"I think we need to keep progressing and we need to start the league with the mentality to win," he said. "We know we play for a big club with big aspirations, also the players, we have big aspirations and we need to win some trophies.

"Of course, the Premier League is one of the trophies we want to win and I think to win the Europa League would be good for the mentality of winning trophies and fighting with the top clubs.

"For next season, if we can win this, it will be important."

Mason Greenwood has been one of the standout stars of the season for United, contributing to 17 goals in all competitions – five of those coming in the Europa League.

And Fernandes, who has been a major success since arriving at Old Trafford from Sporting CP in January, can only see the teenage forward getting better over time.

"I think Mason has done a great season, of course," he said. "Mason is young and he has great numbers this season.

"The age is just a number and you see Mason has done very well.

"He can do much more because of the qualities he has and he still has to grow up physically. He did fantastically this season and he will get better.

"He needs to play more and get more confidence from his team-mates and the staff and I think he will get much better because he has that quality."

Manchester United deserve to be in the Champions League but should now be fighting for multiple trophies, according to Bruno Fernandes. 

The Portugal star scored a penalty to help the Red Devils to a 2-0 win over Leicester City on Sunday, a result that secured third place in the Premier League. 

United have been rewarded for a substantial upturn in form - inspired by Fernandes' arrival from Sporting CP in January - and will be back in the Champions League next season for the first time since 2018-19. 

While he is happy to have achieved their goal of a top-four finish, Fernandes insists it is silverware that should be the focus now for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side. 

"Of course, playing Champions League is always special and I hope it can be with the supporters, that will be more special," he told MUTV. 

"We deserve to be in the best games, in the best European competition. Nothing against the Europa League, but everyone knows the best competition is the Champions League.

"We feel good, it's what we wanted. We trained hard and we worked hard for this moment. We know the only thing we could achieve this season was getting into the Champions League, so we fought hard for that. 

"But we are not happy enough because we know this club and these players, they can bring much more for the club. I think we have qualities enough to fight for some titles - more than one title, you know? I think we need to win some trophies and then we'll be really happy." 

United could yet end the prolonged 2019-20 season with a trophy as they will return to Europa League action next month. 

A 5-0 win over LASK in the first leg of the last-16 tie means they are firm favourites to progress to the quarter-finals, where they will face either Copenhagen or Turkish champions Istanbul Basaksehir in Cologne. 

"Now our focus is on the Europa League because this is a really good trophy and we want to win," Fernandes said. 

"I came to Manchester to win trophies. We need to play every game to win. If we go into the Europa League and win every game, we know we'll win the trophy." 

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lauded Bruno Fernandes' "massive impact" after his performance helped guide the Red Devils to third in the Premier League and a spot in next season's Champions League.

Fernandes scored a 71st-minute penalty and substitute Jesse Lingard netted in the eighth minute of stoppage time as United defeated Leicester 2-0 on the final day of the Premier League season.

After Anthony Martial was fouled by Jonny Evans inside the penalty area, Fernandes stepped up to convert the spot-kick with 19 minutes remaining at the King Power Stadium, where Lingard completed the scoring at the death on Sunday.

Fernandes has transformed United since his January arrival from Portuguese outfit Sporting CP – the star midfielder's eight league goals and seven assists helping Solskjaer's side complete an unlikely comeback in the top-four chase, having found themselves fifth, 14 points and 20 goals worse off than Leicester in second following the January 1 defeat to Arsenal.

"We have to admit that he's come in and been a massive influence. He's made a massive impact," Solskjaer told reporters.

"He's been fantastic scoring goals, creating goals, but also his enthusiasm and mentality around the place has helped. Maybe today you can see a tired Bruno, and that's natural because he's played too much.

"You can see his passion. He's moaning a little bit here and there, so we'll have to take that away from him sometimes. But he's stepped up, calm as you like, and slotted away the penalty."

Solskjaer added: "I need to go and watch him myself [before signing a player]. I've always known, I've seen him on telly and that stuff, when I went to see him live he was exceptional in his enthusiasm, the way he wanted to win, winning mentality. That was fantastic when I saw him.

"But I have to go back to all the chief scouts. The scouting network has been really good, so it's not like I can just pick someone and if five of them say no, I'll force things through. It's a team effort there as well. But of course, Bruno has come in and been fantastic for us."

Manchester United set a record for the highest number of penalties awarded to a team in a Premier League season in 2019-20.

The Red Devils won 2-0 at Leicester City on Sunday to confirm a third-place finish in the top flight and a return to the Champions League.

Bruno Fernandes broke the deadlock at the King Power Stadium from the penalty spot after Anthony Martial had been brought down by a combination of Wes Morgan and Jonny Evans.

It was the 14th spot-kick given to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side this season, a record in the Premier League era.

Fernandes' strike meant he has been directly involved in 15 goals - eight scored and seven assisted - since his Premier League debut in February, more than any other player in that time.

Jesse Lingard scored a second deep into second-half injury time to seal United's victory and consign Leicester to fifth place and the Europa League.

A Bruno Fernandes penalty helped Manchester United to a 2-0 win over Leicester City to send Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side into the Champions League.

The Red Devils needed only a draw to guarantee they would finish above Leicester, who were left needing all three points due to Chelsea's 2-0 win over Wolves at Stamford Bridge.

It was talisman Fernandes who kept his cool on a nervy final day of the Premier League season at the King Power Stadium after Anthony Martial had been fouled by Jonny Evans, who was later sent off, with 19 minutes to go.

Leicester had half-chances throughout but could not find a way past David de Gea and their day was summed up by the late dismissal of Evans and a mistake by Kasper Schmeichel that allowed Jesse Lingard to seal the victory.

Wilfred Ndidi blasted over from a promising position after Nemanja Matic gave away the ball on the edge of his own box, with Leicester pressing United high in the early exchanges.

Kelechi Iheanacho should have done better when leading a three-on-two break but he scuffed a poor shot at De Gea rather than play a pass, with Jamie Vardy offside as he tried to pounce on the rebound.

Youri Tielemans placed a shot just wide before Marcus Rashford wasted United's best chance of the first half, blazing high and wide after Paul Pogba's bouncing ball had reached him.

United finally found some attacking rhythm in first-half stoppage time and only a good Kasper Schmeichel parry kept out Rashford's powerful half-volley.

A looping header from Vardy hit the top of the United crossbar as Brendan Rodgers brought on Ayoze Perez, knowing a goal was critical.

But when Hamza Choudhury lost possession to Mason Greenwood, Fernandes sent Martial through on goal and he was brought down by a combination of Wes Morgan and Evans, with Martin Atkinson awarding United a record 14th spot-kick in a single Premier League season.

Fernandes sent Schmeichel the wrong way to put United back into the Champions League for the first time since 2018-19.

Leicester's frustration boiled over in stoppage time when former United defender Evans was shown a red card for a tired lunge at substitute Scott McTominay, and Lingard made certain of matters when he tackled Schmeichel and slotted home his first league goal of the season in the 98th minute.
 

What does it mean? United complete unlikely comeback in top-four chase

With a 2-0 loss to Arsenal on January 1, United found themselves fifth, 14 points and 20 goals worse off than Leicester in second.

The fact they have finished the season above the Foxes - as well as Chelsea - highlights their improvement in 2020 and the problems Leicester have had with injuries and sustaining their form.

United are heading back to the Champions League then, but a Europa League spot and finishing above teams including Tottenham and Arsenal is not to be sniffed at for Leicester.

Maguire passes huge test on Leicester return

Booked after only nine minutes, Maguire generally marshalled the United defence well and cut out many attempted balls over the top for Vardy. He will be as thrilled as any United player to have snatched top four away from his old club.

Rashford needs a rest

Rashford missed a couple of openings in the first half and generally seemed off the pace, much as he has in the past two weeks. He looks like a player who will welcome a short break between now and the Europa League's return next month.

What's next?

Leicester may be done for the season, but United's Europa League campaign resumes against LASK at Old Trafford on August 5.

Marcus Rashford deserves more credit for his "amazing" teamwork for Manchester United despite his goal return drying up, Bruno Fernandes says.

Rashford reached 20 for the season in all competitions with a penalty in the 5-2 Premier League win over Bournemouth at Old Trafford.

This has been the England forward's most productive campaign of his career in terms of goal involvements, but he has not yet scored from open play since the Premier League returned last month.

Fernandes has had no such trouble finding the net, his four goals in his past three league games helping him to win the Premier League Player of the Month award for the second time in a row.

But the Portugal star insists Rashford is hugely important for a United side unbeaten in 17 matches and with a top-four finish now in their own hands.

"I think everyone is talking about Marcus not scoring a lot of goals but he is doing an amazing job," Fernandes told United's website ahead of Monday's game against Southampton.

"The game he is playing now, maybe he is not achieving his goals and everything but, with everything we are doing now, he will achieve more goals and more assists. In the games, in the complete football, because football is not just about goals and assists, it is about the team and Marcus is playing very well for the team.

"I hope Marcus can find more goals because he deserves it for the work he is doing for the team, and nobody sees it because everyone sees the goals and who scores and assists. The work he is doing for the team is amazing.

"Marcus was injured for a long time so it's difficult to find that confidence again, to do things like shoot from far out. But he is doing an amazing job for the group and I think he deserves credit for this."

Fernandes drew attention to Rashford's off-the-ball run in the 3-0 win at Brighton and Hove Albion that helped to create the space for the swift counter-attack that ended with Fernandes volleying in United's third goal.

"The play we did, the way we came to score, means it's one of the best goals from a team [perspective] that I've scored,” he said.

"That's because of all the teamwork. We won the ball with the header from H [Harry Maguire], Nemanja [Matic] takes the ball and Mason [Greenwood] did an amazing run but, at that moment, Rashy did a perfect run. He was one of the far [off] guys but comes so fast to the goal that defenders know if they give him space, he will score. 

"So maybe he [the defender] closes him down being closer to the ball and, when the cross comes over, and it was a great ball by Mason, after that I just need to score the goal."

Bruno Fernandes has become only the seventh player to win two successive Premier League Player of the Month awards.

Mohamed Salah, Jamie Vardy, Harry Kane, Cristiano Ronaldo, Dennis Bergkamp and Robbie Fowler are the only other players to have achieved the feat.

The Manchester United midfielder, who joined from Sporting CP in January, has made a remarkable start to life in the Premier League, winning both of the Player of the Month awards that he was eligible for.

Fernandes claimed the gong for February after an impressive first month at Old Trafford, before continuing that sparkling form into March.

He picked up where he left off when the Premier League resumed last month following the coronavirus-enforced suspension, with his performances across March and June taken into account for the latest award.

In United's five matches across those two months, Fernandes scored four goals and set up one more.

The Portugal international has helped transform United's fortunes since arriving from Sporting, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men unbeaten in 15 matches since his debut.

Fernandes beat Conor Coady, Danny Ings, Raul Jimenez, Allan Saint-Maximin and his United team-mate Anthony Martial to the June prize, while he also took home the Goal of the Month award.

The goal in question was his second in the 3-0 win at Brighton and Hove Albion on June 30, as he volleyed home from Mason Greenwood's pinpoint cross at the end of a rapid counter-attack.

While it was not a double success for United with the Manager of the Month award, it is the first time the two prizes have gone to Portuguese candidates in the same month.

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo won the manager's accolade for a second time, as he presided over a five-match unbeaten streak either side of the coronavirus hiatus.

He left Steve Bruce, Frank Lampard and Solskjaer in his wake, though Wolves have lost both of their matches in July, denting their hopes of a top-four finish as they trail fourth-placed Leicester City by seven points with four games to go.

Paul Pogba scored his first Premier League goal in 15 months as Manchester United broke a Premier League record in a 3-0 victory at Aston Villa.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side became the first in the division's history to win four successive matches by a margin of three goals or more as they extended their unbeaten run to 17 games in all competitions.

Bruno Fernandes set them on their way by converting a controversial penalty, before Mason Greenwood took his tally to four goals in three games prior to the break.

Pogba picked out the bottom corner of the net from a Fernandes corner in the 58th minute to leave United one point outside the top four.

Despite United's recent purple patch, it was Villa who began brighter and Jack Grealish missed the target with a volley early on from a back-post Ezri Konza cross.

They came closer still when Trezeguet dispossessed Pogba and bent a low effort against the outside of the post.

Yet, a minute later, United had a penalty. Fernandes attempted a double drag-back to go beyond Konza, but his left leg came down into the defender, an act that referee Jon Moss deemed worthy of a spot-kick.

The contentious decision stood after a VAR review and it was Fernandes, rather than Marcus Rashford, who stepped up to slot home United's record-equalling 13th Premier League penalty of the season.

Greenwood and Fernandes then both came close before the former continued his fine scoring streak by blasting home right-footed in first-half stoppage time.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka really should have added the third early in the second half with a header that missed the target, and although he could not register his first goal of the season, Pogba soon did.

Fernandes picked out the Frenchman on the edge of the box from a corner and the World Cup winner steered his effort inside the post.

Pogba's compatriot Anthony Martial came close to adding a fourth - firing against the woodwork - but relegation-threatened Villa suffered no further misery.

 

What does it mean? Free-scoring United continue rich vein of form

Villa had good opportunities to open the scoring - and they may feel aggrieved at the manner in which United went ahead - but once Fernandes slotted in the penalty only one team looked like winning.

United are two points behind third-placed Chelsea and one behind Leicester City in fourth, and they still have to play the Foxes. In this form, it is hard to imagine them not finishing in the top four.

Brilliant Bruno

The impact January signing Fernandes has had on United is clear to see and this was another awesome display from the playmaker.

He has now had 28 goal involvements in 27 league goals this season with Sporting CP and United, scoring 15 and providing 13 assists.

Mings not merciless

England international Tyrone Mings was the latest target for Sky Sports pundit Roy Keane's ire at half-time, the ex-United captain ripping into the Villa defender for not closing down Greenwood.

Anyone who has seen Greenwood of late knows he possess a venomous shot from distance and Mings' inability to close the teenager down was emblematic of Villa's problems.

What's next?

United will hope to make it 18 unbeaten against Southampton at Old Trafford on Monday, while Villa will see the visit of Crystal Palace on Sunday as a more realistic chance to pick up points.

Manchester United were awarded their 13th penalty of the 2019-20 season on Thursday, equalling a Premier League record for the most spot-kicks earned across a campaign.

Bruno Fernandes won a contentious penalty in the first half of United's trip to Aston Villa when referee Jon Moss adjudged Ezri Konsa fouled the Portuguese midfielder inside the area as he attempted a turn.

The ruling stood following a VAR review and Fernandes slotted home from 12 yards to give United the lead.

It was the 13th penalty Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team have been awarded in the top flight this term, a figure that only two clubs have achieved in the Premier League era.

Leicester City were given 13 penalties when they won the title in 2015-16, while Crystal Palace had the same number of spot-kicks awarded to them in 2004-05.

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