Manchester United saw a glimpse of the future when their most potent partnership finally combined

It's been a long time coming but finally, Manchester United's most creative player has set up a goal for the man signed to lead their attack for years to come. Having been starved of service in recent weeks, Rasmus Hojlund's eyes almost popped out of his head when Bruno Fernandes laid one on a plate for him on Wednesday.

It was Hojlund's 14th goal for United but it was the first time he had received an assist from Fernandes, the captain and heartbeat of this team. Fernandes scored two goals himself and now has 26 goals and assists this season.

The prospect of where United would pay without their Portuguese talisman is a frightening one. He is still yet to miss a game through injury in his four years and three months at the club and is up to 143 goals and assists in 229 games. It is a stunning record for someone who has already played under three different managers and in a team that has too often struggled.

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United can't continue to rely on the consistent quality of Fernandes to save them and while Marcus Rashford came good last season, his 30-goal return turned out to be a shooting star of a season. The goalscoring burden has to be passed around.

That is happening this season and the hope is that Hojlund is the long-term solution at centre-forward. Anthony Martial has never convinced as United's No. 9 and although the return of Cristiano Ronaldo delivered goals for himself, it wasn't a move with an eye to the future and it upset the balance of the team.

In Hojlund, United have a player whose best years are ahead of him. The 21-year-old has had rocky spells during his first season in the Premier League, although that was always to be expected. Martial's injury issues have forced Hojlund to play whenever he is fit and he has to lead the line in a team that has malfunctioned.

He was excellent in the Champions League group stages and unstoppable between Boxing Day and mid-February, but there have also been spells when he has struggled to influence games. That has been the case in recent weeks and although United have started to offer more of a goalscoring threat, they have struggled to create chances for their £72million striker.

That was until Fernandes' clever touch found Hojlund in space just six yards from goal late on against Sheffield United. He made no mistake. Of his 14 United goals, seven have been from six yards or closer. He is no tap-in merchant, but having become accustomed to strikers such as Martial and Rashford who drop deep and drift away from goal, they are getting used to having a player who can sniff the opportunities out as well.

The average distance of Hojlund's goals this season is just over eight yards out and it's clear this is a striker who can take chances when they arrive. He is still marginally outperforming his expected goals (xG) metric. His teammates now also know where he will be. In between the posts, not far out, waiting for chances to arrive. It is incumbent on them to find him.

Nobody should be better at that than Fernandes, United's master creator. This was only the second time he had even been that involved in a Hojlund goal, having taken the corner that led to him scoring at Aston Villa in February.

It is a partnership that should be able to flourish. While United will be in the market for a striker this summer, Hojlund is likely to remain the first-choice and nobody is taking Fernandes' role in the team. Their first combination together for United should be a long way from being their last.