United who got all the breaks from then on. Stuart Attwell is a popular referee on the red side of Manchester – and when he decided that Joe Worrall’s block on Fernandes in the 67th minute had prevented a clear goalscoring opportunity, out came his red card.
Forest’s captain hung around in the hope that VAR Robert Jones would have seen Boly coming around to cover, but the officials were sticking together on this one.
As they did in the game’s deciding moment eight minutes later. Rashford tempted Danilo into sticking out a lazy leg and made sure there was enough contact for Attwell to point to the penalty spot.
And Fernandes beat Matt Turner with a kick that fizzed into the corner despite Turner diving the right way.
Now it was Forest boss Steve Cooper who could not believe what was happening.
United have won their opening two home matches either side of last weekend’s defeat at Tottenham – and
probably did not deserve to take the points from either.
Ten Hag knows that performances will have to match results if he is to build on last season’s promise.
Injuries have meant £72million striker Rasmus Hojlund is still to make his debut, while £55m Mason Mount is on a casualty list that includes Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia.
But United’s starting line-up still came at a cost of more than £430m. On the bench there were three more players whose fees totalled £184m.
The sight of Martial starting the game wearing the No.9 shirt that has been detailed for Hojlund if a buyer for the Frenchman can be found illustrates the lack of quality the Dutchman must deal with.