On a night that they further strengthened their chase for a Champions League spot, Manchester United gave their ardent fans so much to cheer about hammering hosts, Aston Villa 3-0 at Villa Park in a match that also saw them setting breathtaking records
Aside creating a new Premier League scoring benchmark with the comprehensive Villa thrashing, the Red Devils also equalled the Premiership penalty record as Bruno Fernandes continues his red-hot start to an expected illustrious career at Old Trafford.
Fernandes, Mason Greenwood and Paul Pogba all got on the act with a goal each to show for their impressive performance as United maintained their dazzling run of form.
In the process, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men set a new benchmark after winning by a margin of three or more goals for the fourth game in a row by thrashing Aston Villa.
They had arrived at Villa Park on Thursday looking to extend their recent winning run in the top flight to four matches, and their unbeaten streak stretching back to January to 17 across all competitions.
Similarly, in being awarded their 13th spot kick of the season after a piece of brilliance in the box from Fernandes, United equalled the League’s all-time record for penalties given in a single season, as the Portuguese netted their opener against Villa from 12 yards
For this victory, the United boss named the same starting XI that managed to secure comfortable victories over Sheffield United, Brighton and Bournemouth, with Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood leading the line and January signing Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba pulling the strings in midfield.
Solskjaer and his travelling side knew Thursday night was a must-win game in their continued pursuit of a top-four finish. And their scintillating form since the Project Restart flagged off on Wednesday, June 17, they have won three of their last four fixtures, scoring an impressive 12 goals in the process.
Though Villa were able to stifle the visitors’ attacking players in the opening quarter of the game, a breakthrough eventually came when the referee awarded United a penalty just before the half-hour mark.
Fernandes was felled by Ezri Konsa after spinning just inside the box, and Jonathan Moss pointed to the spot-kick after a VAR review.
The Portuguese midfielder showed nerves of steel to send Villa goalkeeper Pepe Reina flying the wrong way and sweep the ball into the bottom left-hand corner. That confident display has now taken his tally in a United shirt to eight goals in 15 appearances since his €55 million (£49m/$62m) move from Sporting CP in January.
Also, the Red Devils have now been awarded the joint highest number of penalties over a 38-game season in Premier League history, level with Leicester in 2015-16 and Crystal Palace in 2004-05.
They have been awarded 13 of the 79 penalties taken in this season’s Premier League, making up 16.5 per cent of penalties given.
That 16.5 per cent is the highest proportion of any side in a season in the competition’s history.
Fernandes, meanwhile, has been directly involved in 12 goals in his first ten outings for Solskjaer’s side, as he continues to set English football alight.
Only former Newcastle striker, Mick Quinn, has hit more (13) in their opening ten appearances for a new club in the top-flight, and his brilliance in the final third could now see United move to within a single point of Leicester – who currently occupy the final Champions League spot.
With an impressive winning streak to preserve, the Red Devils will be seeking to extend their recent unbeaten run to 18 games when they take on Southampton on Monday, July 13 at the Theatre of Dreams. – With Goal.com reports
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