Man Utd 3 Nottingham Forest 2: Bruno Fernandes inspires incredible comeback after going 2-0 down in four minutes | The Sun
ON THE DAY of a sit-in protest, Manchester United had everyone out of their seats for all the right and wrong reasons.
One down after 86 seconds, two behind inside four minutes, United were taking their early season stutter to new lows – and justifying further the anger of fans planning their post-match demonstration against the club’s owners.
At that point, Sir Alex Ferguson must have wished he had been at York racecourse celebrating the win of his horse, Spirit Dancer.
But at the end they were dancing in the stands of Old Trafford to celebrate the kind of dramatic comeback victory that was their great manager’s stock in trade.
They needed some help to get there, mind.
Forest were the architects of their own downfall after stunning their hosts with early goals from Taiwo Awoniyi and Willy Boly.
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Christian Eriksen pulled one back in the first half, then Casemiro equalised in the second.
But the visitors were still in the game when captain Joe Worrall was sent off for bringing down opposite number Bruno Fernandes just outside the box.
Soon afterwards an even stupider challenge by Danilo on Marcus Rashford led to a penalty.
On both occasions, VAR saw no need to overturn referee Stuart Attwell’s initial call and there was no stopping Fernandes’ spotkick.
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Old Trafford may be falling down, but United’s capacity for melodrama is intact.
A brilliant American singer-songwriter who performs under the name BC Camplight lives in the city.
On his latest record there is a song called “It Never Rains In Manchester”.
It’s deeply sarcastic, of course. And where the area’s most famous football club is concerned, it never rains, but it pours.
Every good performance prompts “United are back” claims. After the next poor display, some of the same people are all “we’re miles off”. There are very few shades of grey. Apart from the ever-present clouds.
But by the time the skies opened after around 12 minutes of this game, it was already impossible not to be sucked back into the soap opera.
The first chance actually fell to the home side, with Antony forcing Forest goalkeeper Matt Turner into an unconvincing save.
But from the resulting corner, the visitors took the lead.
Setting the tone for the opening stages of the game, United lost a duel when Morgan Gibbs-White beat Aaron Wan-Bissaka in the air.
Rashford made a weak challenge, and Awoniyi charged on to the ball from his own half. Andre Onana hesitated, then retreated. Rashford sprinted back, but could make only a forward’s attempt at a tackle before the Nigerian scuffed the ball into the net.
Barely two minutes later, it was 2-0, after another catalogue of errors. Diogo Dalot, playing at left back in place of the injured Luke Shaw, committed a needless foul.
No United player saw any need to deal properly with the Gibbs-White free kick, which went in off Boly more than anything.
It was breathless stuff as Eriksen pulled one back, diverting Rashford’s cross into the net after Turner had saved from Bruno Fernandes.
United went close twice more, but although Forest were often camped in their own half, they remained a threat on the break and Awoniyi blocked Gibbs-White’s shot in first-half stoppage-time.
Unbelievably, Forest could have started the second period even better than they had the first as they put immediate pressure on a United defence disrupted by Raphael Varane going off at the break.
But Gibbs-White chose to pull the ball back rather than shoot after wriggling past Martinez.
He soon had cause to regret the decision even more.
United seemed to have mucked up a training-ground free-kick routine, but Rashford returned the ball to Fernandes.
The captain’s header back across goal found Casemiro, who jabbed the ball home.
Moments later, Turner saved superbly from Antony and Old Trafford was rocking.
Fernandes dragged a shot wide, Jadon Sancho came on for the ever-average Anthony Martial, the sun was out. The stage was set.
Worrall’s moment of madness turned the game decisively.
You could argue that Willy Boly and Turner would have reached the ball before Fernandes as he ran onto Casemiro’s hopeful long ball. But in that case, the foul itself was silly and VAR Michael Salisbury saw no reason to suggest that Attwell thought again about the red card.
This time the cute free-kick plan didn’t come off, but United still had 20 minutes to find a winner.
Fernandes did so.
Once more, Danilo’s challenge was ill-considered, although Rashford made the most of it.
Again, Salisbury felt Attwell had made the right call, and the United captain buried the penalty.
There were still some nervous moments for the home side.
Onana saved sharply from Boly and Forest desperately tried to salvage a point.
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There were groans as 11 minutes of Fergie time were announced.
But the man himself and the rest of the United fans eventually went home happy after another eventful day at the races.
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