Man Utd kick off season with a blitzkrieg
Bruno Fernandes scored his first hat-trick in English football in front of a raucous Old Trafford as Manchester United thrashed Leeds United 5-1 to get their Premier League season off to a flying start on Saturday.
French midfielder Paul Pogba also starred with four assists - one more than he managed in the whole of last season in the league - to help United run riot in front of their first full crowd in 17 months.
Fernandes got the goalscoring underway on the half hour mark, before a Luke Ayling thunderbolt out of nowhere levelled things up three minutes into the second half.
It was only a short reprieve for Leeds, however, as Man United livewire Mason Greenwood fired the hosts back in front before Fernandes added a quickfire third to put Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side in command.
Fernandes completed his treble with another fine finish on the hour mark, before Brazilian Fred got in on the act to complete the rout and cap a memorable afternoon for the hosts, who laid down an early marker in the Premier League title race.
"My objective every season is being better than the last," Fernandes told BT Sport. "Every performance I do, I want to do better and better. I've started with three goals but it's a long way to go. "We know the quality of the players who have come in, but the team was already very good. We showed it last season. We didn't win trophies, but the team was growing up. Our focus has to be game by game. We'll achieve something with this mentality."
The home fans were on their feet even before a ball was kicked to welcome Raphael Varane as the French centre-back was paraded on the pitch following his arrival from Real Madrid for a reported 40 million ($55 million).Varane was not registered in time to make his debut, while United's other big money signing of the summer Jadon Sancho started on the bench.
Pogba missed a glorious chance to open the scoring, slotting wide with the goal at his mercy, and the Yorkshire side then grew into the match with Mateusz Klich forcing a fine save from home goalkeeper David de Gea before striker Rodrigo headed wide.
The hosts egan to look nervy with the pressure of an expectant crowd, anticipating their first sustained league title challenge since Sir Alex Ferguson's final season in 2012-13, seemingly weighing upon them.
But their top goalscorer from last season, Fernandes, came up with the goods once more to settle the nerves, collecting a perfect pass from Pogba before slotting under onrushing Leeds keeper Illan Meslier.