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Half-fit Marcus Rashford and tired Bruno Fernandes carrying Manchester United on Europa League quest

Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes scored as Manchester United defeated Granada
Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes scored as Manchester United defeated Granada
ANALYST
Modified 09 Apr 2021
Feature

Manchester United have all but secured a place in the semi-final of the Europa League after beating Granada 2-0 in the quarter-final first-leg at the Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes.

The Red Devils recorded a hard-fought win on Thursday, thanks to goals on either side of the half by Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes.

It wasn’t a perfect night in Andalusia, as admitted by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in his post-match press conference, but this was a professional performance from Manchester United.

In the end, they got the job done by grabbing two away goals and will be returning to Old Trafford with a healthy lead from the first leg.

Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes star for Manchester United against Granada

Manchester United’s quest to win the Europa League depends massively on the form of Rashford and Fernandes. The two players have been a class above the rest and were once again the saviours against Granada.

Rashford opened the scoring with a fine finish after being picked out by a pinpoint long ball from Victor Lindelof. Fernandes then scored from the penalty spot to seal the result.

Rashford is clearly half-fit and playing through the pain, while Fernandes is also approaching the red zone after playing 47 matches in all competitions without rest. Yet, both players are carrying Manchester United in the Europa League.

Solskjaer said of the attacking pair (as quoted by Manutd.com):

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“They’ve been exceptional, they have been so good for us and they’re so important for us. The first goal, very good run by Rashford and he takes the ball fantastically and a fantastic finish, and Bruno, I know he’s so confident on penalties. Even though the goalkeeper almost saved it, it was enough to give us a good lead.”

It’s been an unpredictable season thus far, but Rashford and Fernandes have been on top of their game. Both players have now crossed the 20-goal mark for the season and may just be the reason why Manchester United will win the Europa League.

Fatigued Red Devils badly need a rest

Manchester United seem to have lost some steam in recent weeks following their explosive form between December and January. The Red Devils’ lack of depth has slowed them down, and they are no longer as efficient.

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While they managed to beat Granada on Thursday, it's evident that this is a squad that badly needs rest. The majority of the players have already played over 40 matches this season.

Lethargy is beginning to set in, and Solskjaer has a tough job in managing the squad in order to ensure that Manchester United finish the season strongly.

The Red Devils have already lost out on the Premier League to rivals Manchester City. This is due to the superior squad depth and quality of the Cityzens, which allows manager Pep Guardiola to rotate frequently to keep his players fresh each week.

Unfortunately, Manchester United do not have that luxury, and the fatigue within their squad was evident against Granada. The likes of Rashford, Fernandes and Maguire need rest, but the club cannot afford to give it to them as they aim to finish the season strongly and possibly with a trophy.

Published 09 Apr 2021, 09:59 IST
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