Football: Atonement for errant duo as Manchester United get going

LONDON • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer declared Manchester United's season "starts today" after Bruno Fernandes and "inspirational" Harry Maguire enjoyed sweet moments of redemption in their side's 4-1 win at Newcastle on Saturday.

Solskjaer's side suffered a humiliating 6-1 defeat against Tottenham at Old Trafford just before the international break. But they made partial amends for that embarrassment with a much-needed second win of the Premier League season.

After Luke Shaw's own goal gave Newcastle an early lead, United captain Maguire scored the equaliser just days after he was widely criticised for his red card in England's Nations League defeat against Denmark at Wembley.

Maguire's first Premier League goal since February was a cathartic moment after a troubled few months marred by poor performance on the pitch and his Greek court case off it.

"Harry scored and leads by example. He showed good character, I am happy for him. He had a couple of difficult weeks since he last played for us," Solskjaer said.

Fernandes also went from zero to hero as the midfielder's second-half penalty was saved by Karl Darlow - his first miss from the spot for United, before he hit a superb strike to put United ahead in the closing minutes.

The Portugal international has now been directly involved in 20 goals in his 18 United league appearances (11 goals, nine assists), scoring in the last three games.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka made it three with his first goal for United and Marcus Rashford wrapped up the late goal blitz in stoppage time.

Although United left it late to finish off Newcastle, the result was no more than they deserved and Solskjaer will hope it is the start of a better period for his team after their troubled opening to the campaign.

"Great result and great character to come back, led by a very inspirational captain," said the manager.

"We don't want to use it as an excuse, but we needed preseason. We wanted to get to this international break with more points than we have, but now we know our season started today, because we've come up to the speed of the game."

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    Penalties taken by Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes before his first miss against Newcastle. He made amends by scoring later.

Maguire also dismissed talk of a crisis following their slow start to the season.

"It's funny, three games into the season and it seems like a big crisis. Won two, lost two. There is a long way to go, we have to improve," the 27-year-old told Sky Sports.

"When you play for this club and get beat at home, we ask questions. We work hard in training, it is a great group and we knew we had to bounce back."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 19, 2020, with the headline 'Atonement for errant duo as United get going'. Print Edition | Subscribe