Bruno Fernandes made Champions League history in helping Manchester United come from behind to draw 1-1 with Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night.
For large periods of the game Man Utd were overwhelmed and looked out of sorts in attack, trailing to Joao Felix’s seventh-minute header, and an equaliser seemed unlikely.
The Red Devils ended the game with 0.46 Expected Goals, just two shots on target and a grand total of five touches inside the opposition box. But they did manage to get that equaliser through Anthony Elanga with 10 minutes to play.
It was the teenager’s first ever goal in the Champions League in only his second appearance, having made his debut in the 1-1 draw with Young Boys in December, and Man Utd’s 500th in the European Cup/Champions League.
Only Real Madrid (1,001), Bayern Munich (760) and Barcelona (624) have managed more goals in Europe’s premier club competition than Man Utd who naturally have become the first English team to hit the 500-mark. But that was not the only record broken with Elanga’s equaliser.
That’s because the man who set it up was Bruno Fernandes, someone who has come under a lot of criticism of late for his performances – with Paul Scholes only recently claiming he was a problem for being “all over the pitch”.
Since Ralf Rangnick took charge, Fernandes has certainly played a different role at Man Utd, perhaps affected by the fact that this is a manager that is not likely to be in charge come the summer, so has very short-term aims. But he was the man to play the right pass at the right time, an excellent ball through the Atletico Madrid defence to Elanga for his equaliser.
The Portuguese midfielder has now recorded an assist in six consecutive Champions League matches, the first player to ever do so for an English club. It was a former Man Utd player whose record he broke too!
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In 1998 across two campaigns, David Beckham recorded assists in five consecutive Champions League matches, starting in Man Utd’s quarter-final exit to Monaco and continuing in group stage games against Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Brondby and Barcelona again en route to winning the whole thing in 1998/99.
Meanwhile, Fernandes’ run of games has seen him record assists against Young Boys, Villarreal, Atalanta, Atalanta again, Villarreal and Atletico Madrid. You can bet he’d have probably recorded an assist in the second group stage game against Young Boys had he played. It’s in stark contrast to last season’s Champions League when he only recorded one assist as Man Utd bowed out at the group stage.
But there will be no time for Fernandes or Man Utd to celebrate, or even really dwell on, their result this week as attention will quickly turn to the Premier League. On Saturday, Man Utd host Watford at Old Trafford, looking to build on their two-match winning streak domestically to keep some form of control on the race for the top four.