LONDON – Manchester United supporters have lauded hat-trick hero Bruno Fernandes as the best player in the world after the midfield maestro starred in their 5-1 opening-day thrashing of Leeds at Old Trafford yesterday.
Portugal play-maker Fernandes made a dream start to the new campaign, hitting a treble to torment the visitors and leave celebrating supporters boasting that United are certainties for the Premier League title this season.
Leeds had few answers as formidable Fernandes found the form that saw him dazzle the Premier League last term, although Marcelo Bielsa’s side were briefly level after Luke Ayling replied to the 31st-minute opener from the man they could not resist.
“Just give us the title already,” thundered one viewer, envisaging a Fernandes-inspired United emphatically closing a final gap last season of 12 points on their title-winning city rivals.
“Bigger than Manchester City,” added another, claiming that Fernandes will eclipse the likes of Jack Grealish, who is expected to shine at City following his arrival from Aston Villa.
Critics who tease Fernandes over the penalties that have beefed up his Premier League record — 13 of his 29 league goals have come from the spot — had few arguments after all three of his efforts were scored in open play.
There were a couple of uncertain moments as Leeds unsuccessfully contested that Fernandes’ second had not crossed the line and VAR checked the goal that sealed his hat-trick.
Majestic Fernandes was not to be denied, though, as his admirers gushed that he is the “greatest United player ever”, and noted that he also outshone a terrific performance by engine room partner Paul Pogba.
The France superstar provided a remarkable four assists, setting up Fernandes’ first two goals and teeing up Mason Greenwood and Fred as United strolled to a memorable victory.
“Bruno times Pogba show at Old Trafford,’ observed former United defender Rio Ferdinand, hailing the atmosphere as a full house returned to the stadium for the first time since the pandemic began.
The goals were Fernandes’ first for the club since he scored in a 4-2 defeat against Liverpool on May 13.
Leeds will be sick of the sight of the former Sporting magician, who netted twice against them in a 6-2 win on the same turf in December — the last occasion on which Fernandes scored more than once in a Premier League match.
Fernandes has now equalled the number of hat-tricks scored by another inspirational Portuguese in United’s hall of fame, Cristiano Ronaldo.