Manchester United returned to Champions League action on Tuesday night with a dominant 3-0 win over Basel at Old Trafford, in an ideal start to the club’s European campaign.
Goals from Marouane Fellaini, Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford confirmed victory and already Jose Mourinho will have one eye on the knock-out rounds of the competition.
The draw was favourable for United, with Benfica and CSKA Moscow also to play in Group A – the English side are overwhelming favourites to progress to the next stage.
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Anything other than all three points against Basel would not have been acceptable to the home faithful and Mourinho’s side duly delivered rewards for those betting on a United win.
While Paul Pogba’s injury was a major negative in the clash, there were a number of positives that the Red Devils will take from the fixture.
Lukaku opened his Champions League account for United and there will be high hopes that the Belgian international can fire the Manchester club into the latter rounds of the tournament.
The Guardian give the United attack an 8.5/10 rating and it is fair to suggest that Mourinho does not have as much firepower at his disposal as some of Europe’s top teams.
However, Lukaku’s impressive start to life at Old Trafford and the way that he has linked up with the likes of Pogba, Juan Mata and Henrikh Mkhitaryan will give the club’s supporters belief that the side can match the best in the continent.
A much-changed defence managed to cope with Basel’s threat reasonably comfortably, with Victor Lindelof getting through his first European night in United colours unscathed alongside Chris Smalling in the heart of the hosts’ rearguard.
Ashley Young also got the chance to play and reminded Mourinho that he can be a valuable and versatile asset in the squad.
Nemanja Matic continues to play a dominant role in United’s success and the Serbian enforcer was again a commanding force in the heart of the Red Devils’ side.
While Pogba looks set to spend a bit of time on the sidelines after being hurt against Basel, it will be interesting to see Mourinho’s dynamic in the middle of the park without the France international.
Marouane Fellaini replaced the former Juventus man after 19 minutes on Tuesday, but Ander Herrera looks like a much more fitting substitute while Pogba looks to get back to fitness.
With CSKA winning in Portugal against Benfica, it is realistic to think that United can quickly take hold of this group and have a game or two to spare after confirming qualification.