Last night, Manchester United forward Bruno Fernandes shone for Portugal in their World Cup play-off final against North Macedonia.
The 2016 European champions were heavy favorites to win, but they had to dig deep as Blagoja Milevski’s team displayed strong defensive determination.
Portugal took advantage of two critical counter-attacking opportunities. Pepe’s outstanding tackle in his own half resulted in the opening goal. In the 32nd minute, Cristiano Ronaldo squared the ball for Fernandes to tap home.
Fernando Santos’ men increased their lead to 2-0 shortly after the hour mark. Fernandes scored a Diogo Jota cross into the box into the back of the net with a wonderful side-foot half-volley.
Portugal’s 2-0 victory clinched their place in the World Cup finals in Qatar this winter. Fernandes was unquestionably the star of the show, scoring his seventh and eighth international goals.
The 27-year-old finished the game with five shots, three of which were on goal. He had 86 touches and four important opportunities. The performance should put him in excellent stead for the remainder of the Red Devils’ season.
United are presently four points adrift of fourth-placed Arsenal, who have a game in hand. To qualify for the Champions League, they may need to win all nine of their remaining games.
Fernandes’ form has been erratic since the turn of the year, but the Portuguese midfielder will be crucial as United look to cut the gap on the north London club in the coming weeks.
This weekend’s game against Leicester City will be the first of their remaining nine. On paper, United appear to be the favorites, but the Midlands club has defeated them in their last three meetings in all competitions.