3️⃣ points as clinical United take firm grip on Group of Death

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Padraig Whelan

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Manchester United took a huge step towards the Champions League knockout stages with a comfortable win over Istanbul Basaksehir.

Champions League

Manchester United
İstanbul Başakşehir

Bruno Fernandes scored twice and passed up a hat-trick by giving Marcus Rashford a penalty, while Daniel James put the seal on things in injury time.

This is what we made of it.

Easy as you like

It turns out that when Manchester United aren’t gifting Basaksehir embarrassing goals, they’re comfortably a better team.

Who’d have thought it?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men put the demons of Turkey to bed by showing the gulf between these sides when they are on form.

They were helped by some poor individual errors at times from the visitors but United were still clinical and ruthless in punishing them.

The goal they conceded will be a source of frustration, although their iffy defending and loss of focus late on did merit that as they made things a little nervier than they should have been.

All in all though, it is another very pleasing night of Champions League football.

In a group that saw them ridiculed and written off in some quarters before it began, they’re closing in quickly on qualification.

Head and shoulders above

He’s had a few poor patches which clearly came from overuse and fatigue.

But for the most part, Bruno Fernandes has been Manchester United’s best player since signing for them in February.

And he showed why that is the case with this performance in this one, scoring two first half goals which took his involvement in goals since joining to 34 in 35 games.

That is an incredible 16 more than the next closest player and also sees him to 20 goals in rather quick time.

Of the three players to reach it quicker than him, all were strikers.

Penalty taker or not, that’s some going. And we could watch his first goal all day long. Incredible skill.

James lays his claim

Daniel James has had his name linked with a United exit more than most in recent weeks.

For his part, the Welsh winger has insisted he isn’t ready to give up on his dream just yet, despite making just five appearances prior to this one.

“I love it at United and I’m so proud to play for the club,” he said on international duty. “I’m sticking in there and when I do play, I give it my all.”

He proved that with a good cameo appearance off the bench to calmly slide in an injury time fourth and remind everyone what he can do.

It his first goal at the Theatre of Dreams since August of 2019 but also comes off the back of a goal and assist for Wales against Finland.

With his confidence only set to increase, it provides Solskjaer with another important option at a time when squads are being stretched beyond breaking point.