Wednesday 13 September 2017

Match report: United 3-0 FC Basel

United opened their Champions League campaign in impressive style with an eye-catching victory over the Swiss champions FC Basel in Group A. 

Substitute Marouane Fellaini capped his man-of-the match performance with a goal having stepped off the bench ten minutes before the break.

Romelu Lukaku continued his rich vein of scoring form with his sixth of the season - and first ever in the competition - before another sub, Marcus Rashford, completed the scoring late on.

It was the perfect way to mark United's return to Europe's elite club competition after a 644-day absence. 

With a congested fixture schedule on the horizon, manager Jose Mourinho made six changes to the side that drew at Stoke, and the rotated Reds started brightly.

Lukaku went close early on, Anthony Martial flashed an effort over the bar from distance and Henrikh Mkhitaryan should have done better with a header from close range.

Stand-in skipper Paul Pogba was then forced off with a hamstring injury, with Fellaini on in his place, but this did little to stop the hosts momentum as the woodwork soon came to the visitors' rescue. 

It was Mkhitaryan who almost continued his impressive scoring run in Europe, stretching back to last season, when he stabbed the ball against a post after Lukaku had picked him out.

Despite being on the back foot, Basel almost made a shock breakthrough when Luca Zuffi pulled his shot wide when well placed after neat build up play.

They were made to rue that chance when the returning Ashley Young crossed for Fellaini, and he powered home his header to give United a deserved half-time lead. 

Seven minutes after the restart, we moved 2-0 ahead when Tomas Vaclik saved well from Martial, and from Daley Blind's resultant corner, Lukaku did the rest with another header.

David de Gea had little to do throughout but remained alert to tip over Mohammed Elyounoussi's rising effort from distance, and Vaclik did well to deny Lukaku at the other end.

United continued to attack and went close twice in quick succession through Martial, who fired wide and Young, whose 25-yarder was pushed out by the busy Vaclik.

Rashford then replaced Mata and the substitute put the result beyond any lingering doubt six minutes from time.

This time, Fellaini found space on the right and, after Mkhitaryan miscued his effort, Rashford pounced to score from close range for his third goal in as many games. 

That meant that the teenage striker had now scored on his League, Europa League, League Cup, Champions League, Manchester derby and England U21 and senior debuts. 

Ultimately, it capped a good night's work with another solid win to send United top of Group A after the first round of matches.

CSKA Moscow had a surprise 2-1 win in Portugal against Benfica in the other match.

Overall team performance: 6/10
United Faithful Man of the Match: Marouane Fellaini 

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