Bruno Fernandes scored an opening-day hat-trick as Manchester United swept Leeds aside with a devastating second-half display.
The Portugal midfielder opened the scoring on the half-hour mark at a packed Old Trafford, but Luke Ayling’s thunderous strike drew Leeds level early in the second half.
Mason Greenwood restored the hosts’ lead with a crisp finish less than two minutes later, before Fernandes’ low shot was ruled to have crossed the line by referee Paul Tierney after a check of goalline technology.
The 26-year-old quickly completed his hat-trick with a thumping finish from Victor Lindelof’s pass, before Fred added United’s fourth goal in 14 minutes from Paul Pogba’s cross – the Frenchman’s fourth assist of the afternoon.
It was Fernandes’ first hat-trick since he moved to Old Trafford in January 2020 and only the second by a Red Devils player since Robin van Persie’s title-winning effort against Aston Villa in 2013.
But the game was also a personal triumph for Pogba. The France midfielder’s future has been the subject of intense debate as he enters the final year of his contract.
But his four assists included a sublime pass for Greenwood’s goal, and he left the field to a standing ovation 15 minutes from time as £74m new-boy Jadon Sancho was introduced for his debut.
Afterwards Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was understandably delighted with United’s performance saying:
A TEAM EFFORT
“You’ve got to say well done to everyone – from the crowd to the players to the staff this week, the coaches. Everything’s been spot on and to get this result and performance on the first day gives you a massive boost. It’s just the mood. But it’s one game and we should always pat ourselves on the back and taste that sweet victory. Tomorrow, we’re back on track for the next one.”
PRESSURE, WHAT PRESSURE?
“Sir Alex always used to say enjoy it and express yourself. You have to enjoy the privilege and the pressure of playing in front of 75,000 and millions on TV. I knew we would work hard but it was the fitness levels I wasn’t 100 per cent sure of. We could smile at the end!”
MASON’S A MAN NOW
“The way he burst away for that second goal. That’s a man compared to a boy that was in the first team two years ago. I’m delighted with what he has done in pre-season to get his fitness up.”
MESSAGE TO POGBA
“I’ve had a great relationship with Paul ever since he was a kid. Today was just about ‘go out there and enjoy yourself’ because he had 45 minutes against Everton, which wasn’t his best. We gave him the freedom of roaming wherever you want to go and get on the ball. I can’t remember the last time that happened [getting four assists in a single game] but Paul’s got that quality and, when you’ve got runners willing to make runs and create space for others, it opens up.”
SCOTT’S A BEAST
Scott running on, that was a big thing. He’s not played more than 20 minutes this pre-season and that was at centre-back. It was one of those where we kept him under wraps because we knew this was a big game for him. Scott is a beast physically. He can run all day and now he’s a proper man out there. I thought he was excellent.”
SUPPORTERS PLAYED THEIR PART
“Magic, absolutely magic. It does mean a lot for the players. This atmosphere gives you the extra edge and energy. You can’t replicate that from a team-talk or the team spirit it gives you. When you run down that end and you score four goals like we did second half, it’s just the best feeling in the world. The last 18 months have been strange – the only interaction [for fans] has been through media and watching games on TV. You haven’t had that feeling of connection. To be re-united with the fans again is important. This is Man United. This is the real Man United. This is how I sold Man United to Edinson [Cavani] for example. You can’t leave after one season playing with no fans. Man United is fans and players and everyone together.”