Man Utd: Solskjaer impressed by Rashford in Granada win
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Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has revealed Mike Phelan told him Bruno Fernandes deserved his penalty in their 2-0 win over Granada on Thursday night. The Portugal international found the net from 12 yards. And his goal means the Red Devils will face off against the La Liga minnows in the return leg with a healthy lead to their name.
Manchester United weren’t at their swashbuckling best against Granada.
But they got the job done in Spain, with goals from Marcus Rashford and Fernandes ensuring they take a giant step towards the Europa League semi-finals.
Rashford opened the scoring in the 31st minute, finding the net after a looping pass from Victor Lindelof.
And Fernandes, after an altercation in the area, converted a penalty in the closing stages to lift his mood in the process.
Now, speaking after the match, Solskjaer has revealed he didn’t see the incident that led to the spot-kick.
But he claimed Phelan expressed a belief a penalty was the right outcome, saying: “To be honest, I haven’t seen it.
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“I’ve just seen his eye when he came off. He got hit.
“Mick Phelan sat behind me in the dugout and he said he took one in the face and it’s a clear penalty apparently. I’ve not seen it, I’ve got to say.”
Solskjaer also hailed Fernandes for scoring the penalty, despite taking a knock to his eye.
“Yes, it is red. And to score with just one eye open is also a skill,” he said.
The Norwegian defended the 26-year-old, too, insisting his combative personality was a benefit to his side instead of a hindrance.
“No, he drives the team, he drives himself, he’s got such enthusiasm and hunger to win and do well,” he said.
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“I played in teams with a lot stronger personalities than that to be honest and that’s the way for us to improve and to take the next level, to always demand more, and more and more.”
In a separate interview with BT Sport, Solskjaer labelled the performances of Rashford and Fernandes as ‘exceptional’.
He said: “They have been exceptional, they have been so good for us and they’re so important for us.
“The first goal, very good run by Rashford and then he takes the ball fantastically and it’s a fantastic finish.
“And Bruno, I know he’s so confident on penalties and even though the goalkeeper almost saved it, it was good enough to give us a good lead.”
But United star Daniel James has warned the dressing room the tie isn’t over yet despite their positive evening abroad.
“It’s a great position, I think today we fought well,” the Wales international told MUTV.
“Coming here, we knew it was going to be physical, it would be a good match for us and I think the important thing today is the clean sheet and going into the second leg with those two away goals.
“The tie isn’t over yet, we still have to concentrate on next week. We’ll still go into the game with the same attitude.“
He then added: “[They’re] very important. It’s not just two goals, they’re away goals, it’s so big going into the second leg.
“They [Granada] gave us a good fight and they will next week as well. For them, [they’ll] come to us with nothing to lose, so we’ll definitely be ready for that.”
Next up for United is a Premier League clash with Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham on Sunday.
Spurs won 6-1 against the Red Devils earlier in the season on a nightmare afternoon at Old Trafford, with Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min bagging braces.
It was a dire affair and James has admitted this upcoming fixture is ‘massive’ when it comes to their hopes of finishing in the Premier League top four.
“We’ve just got to have the same attitude [in the second leg], the tie isn’t over, but for us it’s about concentrating on Sunday now, getting back and getting recovered,” he said.
“It’s a massive game for us, we’ll get prepared for that one.”
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