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Manchester United beat Brentford to bolster spot in Europa League

Manchester United defeated Brentford 3-0 on a rainy Monday night at Old Trafford with Portugal internationals Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo scoring to keep their team in sixth place in the Premier League.

Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic were given starts by departing coach Ralf Rangnick in what is likely their final season with the club, while Edinson Cavani, who is also expected to leave, came off the bench.

The hosts took the lead in the ninth minute when Bruno Fernandes swept home in the centre of the area from Anthony Elanga’s cross as United looked to solidify their spot in the table and a place in next season’s Europa League.

Fernandes snapped an eight-match Premier League goalless streak with the opener for United, who were playing their last match of the 2021-22 season at Old Trafford.

“The last game of the season at home, we wanted a good result and a good performance,” United captain Fernandes said after scoring his 50th goal for the club. “We know our standard has not been at [the level] everyone expects and our own expectations were bigger than this.

“The club has to get back at the level it deserves. There will be a time to meet the new coach [Erik ten Hag] and learn the way he wants to play, but first we must finish the season well.”

Ronaldo looked to have doubled the lead just before half-time, but the goal was ruled out for offside and United went into the break with a 1-0 advantage.

As he has done all season, David De Gea kept his side in the match with some stellar goalkeeping, saving efforts from Christian Eriksen and Ivan Toney in the opening 15 minutes of the second half.

Ronaldo then successfully extended United’s lead, this time calmly converting from the penalty spot after drawing a foul on Rico Henry in the area to make it 2-0 for the Old Trafford side.

Raphael Varane left no doubt about the three points when he connected with the ball from a corner kick and beat Brentford keeper David Rayato extend the lead to three.

Mata was subbed off shortly after the third goal to a rousing ovation from the home crowd, with the Spain international likely playing his last game at Old Trafford ahead of an expected move away from the club this summer.

The result puts United on 58 points from 36 matches, six ahead of West Ham United, who have a game in hand, for sixth place and a spot in the Europa League for the 2022-23 season.

Rangnick said the triumph over Brentford was a vast improvement when compared to their recent form.

“We were in control for most parts,” Rangnick said. “In possession, that was one of our best performances this year. It was the type of performance we wanted to show to our supporters.

“We played with Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic, and that gave us some quality in midfield. It was not too easy for Brentford to take the ball away from us.

“In the first half we played too many square and back passes but in general it was a good performance.”

Brentford have 40 points from 35 games and may need one more win to ensure they not dragged into a relegation fight. “We didn’t really turn up,” Brentford defender Pontus Jansson said. “We started well but gave away the first goal. We gave away too many chances and we shouldn’t have conceded a penalty, or from a corner like we did in the second half.”

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