Bruno Fernandes spared Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s blushes as Manchester United struggled to break down West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford in their first Premier League fixture after the international break on Saturday night.
VAR has been heavily scrutinised ever since its introduction in the World Cup 2018 and last night was no exception as referee David Coote overturned his decision to award West Brom with a penalty, much to the chagrin of Baggies boss Slaven Bilic, only for the video assistant referee to then order Fernandes to retake his penalty after Sam Johnstone was clearly off his line to save his first attempt.
The former United goalkeeper was outstanding upon his return to his old club, making a string of fine saves to deny Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, but even he was powerless to prevent the Portugal international from firing home on the second occasion, whilst the result ensured that the Red Devils won at Old Trafford in the Premier League for the first time this season.
By all accounts Solskjaer’s side were mostly lacklustre, a fact which didn’t go unnoticed by the club legend, who defended the manner of their performance in his post-match interview.
“After the international break, we said it in the dressing room after, it’s difficult,” he told BT Sport (via Sky Sports). “We’ve not worked together, we’ve waited until this morning to get the prep for this game done, and that’s never easy when everyone’s been away for 10 days.”
For the most part Fernandes was impressive, Fred comfortable with the ball, but David de Gea was the real standout. It’s not very often we say that, as any regular reader of this column will know, but there’s no denying his near-faultless performance between the sticks.
SofaScore gave De Gea a high grade of 7.3 out of ten for his efforts – he made two saves from inside the box, one clearance and completed one successful run out, whilst he took 22 touches of the ball, made 16 out of 19 passes (84%), and kept his second clean sheet of the campaign, having played the full 90 minutes.
The 30-year-old received a similar score from Sky Sports for his performance, whilst 90min went one better, claiming he ‘made a smart save to tip a low strike round the post in the first half’ before he pulled off a ‘fantastic second-half stop with his feet from Townsend to keep the scores level.’
Once lauded as a “fantastic” talent by former United midfielder Darren Fletcher after he made a number of crucial saves to deny Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League, it’s fair to say that De Gea has suffered from an inconsistent run of form in recent years, as he has often been criticised for disappointing results.
But the Spain international, who’s market value is estimated at up to €50m (£44m) via CIES, seems to have started to turn things around at Old Trafford.
Solskjaer will need his first-choice shot-stopper to be at his very best when the Red Devils travel to St Mary’s to take on Ralph Hasenhuttl’s high-flying Southampton next week, that’s for sure.
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