Bruno Fernandes netted his first goal for Manchester United as Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side cruised to a 3-0 win over relegation strugglers Watford on Sunday. Fernandes netted the opening goal of the game from the penalty spot late in the opening half, with Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood capping the win with goals in the second.
Despite the margin of victory, United didn’t make a convincing start to the match, and were given a real scare within the first quarter-hour. Abdoulaye Doucouré should’ve done better after taking receipt of a low Gerard Deulofeu pass in the centre of the area, but he couldn’t work space for a shot and ended up dribbling himself out of a scoring position.
Watford had clearly come to play, and Doucouré—recently linked with a move to Old Trafford—was again at the heart of their forward thrusts when he surged down the left and lashed a fierce shot towards the near post. David de Gea was on hand to make a sturdy save.
United offered relatively little in attack for most of the first half, save for Aaron Wan-Bissaka shanking a simple shot wide from out on the right side of the Watford box. The game certainly didn’t look like a clash between top four contenders and a side battling for survival, but was a finely balanced contest between two teams taking it in turns to mount their attacks.
However, as halftime drew nearer, so United cranked up the pressure. Fred curled an inch-perfect Daniel James layoff from the edge of the area, two minutes before Ben Foster felled Fernandes in the penalty area. It was an obvious penalty, the referee pointed to the spot, and with a joyful hop the Portuguese international stepped up to roll home his first United goal.
By the interval it would have been two, were it not for some clumsy attacking play between Martial and Fernandes. Bearing down on goal, the Frenchman attempted to roll the ball square to his teammate, though the pass broke Fernandes’ stride and he could only poke wide.
United survived a scare early in the second half when a scrappy Troy Deeney equaliser was ruled out for handball after VAR review. The Hornets continued to commit men forward, and paid the price just short of the hour. Some smart play between James and Luke Shaw bought Fernandes the space to pick out Martial in the Watford box. It looked like the chance had gone when the Frenchman’s first shot was saved and yellow shirts swarmed, but with some fantastic footwork he deceived the defenders and dinked the ball over the top of Foster for 2-0.
United killed the game off with a third in the final quarter-hour. It was another triumph of counter-attacking play, coming on the back of a spell of Watford pressure. Fred won the ball back in midfield and offloaded to Mason Greenwood, who exchanged simple passes with Fernandes before blasting a rocket into the top corner from the edge of the area. It was a superb goal, and a reaffirmation of the youngster’s potential.
The final whistle sounded with the scoreline at 3-0. It wasn’t a vintage performance, but in the end, United’s superior quality shone through. Fernandes and Greenwood are looking the real deal, and James and Martial both showed flashes of brilliance. Maybe, just maybe, things are looking up.