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Not a big game player? Bruno Fernandes silences critics with winner against Liverpool

Bruno Fernandes was the match-winner against Liverpool in the FA Cup
Bruno Fernandes was the match-winner against Liverpool in the FA Cup
ANALYST
Modified 26 Jan 2021
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Bruno Fernandes’ critics are running out of excuses to berate him. The Portuguese midfielder has been in imperious form since joining Manchester United about a year ago.

In the last 12 months, the 26-year-old has lifted the mood at Old Trafford, and the Red Devils are now aiming to win their first Premier League title in eight years. It’s been a long time since a single player made such an impact at any club.

On Sunday, Bruno Fernandes once again stole the headlines when he came off the bench to score an incredible winner against Liverpool in the FA Cup. When he entered the game, the scoreline was deadlocked at 2-2.

However, despite being afforded less than 25 minutes on the pitch, the midfielder still managed to make his presence felt. His brilliant free-kick won the game for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side. He nearly added another assist when he set up Edinson Cavani, but the post denied the Uruguayan’s towering header.

Bruno Fernandes in a league of his own

Before Sunday’s game against Liverpool, Bruno Fernandes had gone on a mini-drought without scoring or providing an assist. Since scoring against Aston Villa on New Year’s Day, he had failed to make a direct goal contribution in games against Manchester City, Burnley, Liverpool and Fulham.

While many took advantage of these statistics to criticise him, including suggesting that he fails to show up in big games, the Portuguese ace was back at his best against Liverpool.

He came on when Liverpool were beginning to gain momentum and had pinned Manchester United to their own half. His presence, though, tilted the game back in the Red Devils’ favour.

His goal from the free-kick was the perfect reward for a player who has been so dedicated to getting Manchester United back to the pinnacle of English and European football.

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He has proven to be a man in a league of his own. No player in the Premier League has scored more goals than Bruno Fernandes since his arrival at Manchester United – and he can only get better.

Bruno Fernandes silences critics yet again

The level of performance that Bruno Fernandes is producing is bound to attract the jealous eyes of rival fans. In truth, he has had plenty of that, with some even branding him a ‘stat-paddling merchant’.

While such banter has often been driven by millennials on social media, it is surprising that Jurgen Klopp and Jose Mourinho have also taken aim at the midfielder's penalty record in recent weeks.

On Sunday, the Manchester United star silenced his critics by netting the winner against Liverpool. To serve them humble pie, he scored from a free-kick, not a penalty.

Talking about Bruno Fernandes after the game, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said (as quoted by Manutd.com):

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“Great goal, good free-kick. The thing is when you leave him out, like I had to do this time… I think he stayed about 45 minutes after training yesterday shooting free-kicks, so I was quite confident he was going to hit the target.
“If he's starting the day after the final training session I always send him in, he’s never allowed to practice too much. Yesterday he stayed out and it worked.”

Bruno Fernandes is a player who has worked hard to get to this level and continues to inspire his teammates. What he is doing at Manchester United is not ordinary; his numbers are unreal, and such high-level performances are exactly what one needs to silence the critics.

Published 26 Jan 2021, 06:47 IST
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