Manchester United made it 15 straight matches unbeaten Tuesday evening after a commanding Premier League win against Brighton and Hove Albion. A stunner of a goal by teenage prodigy Mason Greenwood opened the scoring and January signing Bruno Fernandes continued to prove his worth with goals two and three.
Although still in fifth, the Reds are just two points away from Chelsea for the final Champions League spot. Based on their performances since the return of football, there shouldn’t be much of a doubt among Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men or United supporters about their ability to secure that final spot. Here are three things we learned from United’s 3-0 win against Brighton.
Fernandes’ impact is unbelievable
Could you imagine if United had waited until the summer transfer window to sign the Portuguese playmaker? Fernandes’ presence on the pitch sparks a sense of seriousness from his teammates. The former Sporting Lisbon man was clinical in his first goal, assisted by none other than Paul Pogba. The two have made headlines since their first minutes on the pitch together, with the latest being the Frenchman’s shift in attitude now that he’s got some help in the middle.
Fernandes showed even more class in his post-match remarks.
"It's not fair for the other guys if we just talk about me and Paul, Fred & Scotty did an amazing job, we are a team they push me to do better"— Football Daily (@footballdaily) June 30, 2020
Bruno Fernandes on his partnership with Pogba pic.twitter.com/6KMA25XDNI
“I don’t want to talk too much about me and Paul Pogba, we are happy to play together but I am happy to play with everyone. We can combine together, we have qualities, but we know that we have teammates who can do well.”
This is the beginning of a depleted midfield brought back to life, which United fans have been desperately waiting for since Sir Alex’s departure. Should United eventually find themselves playing Champions League football next season, they owe a huge debt of appreciation to Fernandes.
How is Greenwood only 18?
The Englishman returned to training a couple weeks ago not only sporting a shorter look, but also an impressive physique. Greenwood reportedly added 3kg of muscle in his biceps, triceps, and quads during the hiatus. He exemplified nothing but class in his opening goal, warding off three Brighton defenders to sink one past keeper Mat Ryan.
Not to mention, Greenwood became the first United player to score six goals in the Premier League during a single season before turning 19.
His brilliance didn’t stop there. For United’s final goal, the academy graduate sprinted down the left off a Nemanja Matić cross-field pass only to launch a sensational cross for Fernandes to volley past Ryan from just outside the six yard box.
The chemistry continues to improve at United, and it’s becoming more obvious following each match they’re not only enjoying playing again, but they’re serious about challenging Liverpool for the title next year.
De Gea silences
Roy Keane the critics
Tuesday was light work for David de Gea, adding his 12th clean sheet of the season. The Spaniard was the subject of criticism against Tottenham, but that June 19 draw hasn’t appeared to drastically alter his form. In fact, classic de Gea was in full effect against the Seagulls, nabbing a couple of excellent saves on the evening.
As it would appear, looks like it was just a minor setback for the 29-year-old. Perhaps a case of rustiness afflicting him in the first game back. Either way, the last couple of matches have been a jolt of confidence for the veteran, and a swift reminder to doubters that he’s still one of the best keepers in Europe.