Despite getting off to winning ways in the Champions League – an injury to Paul Pogba put a dampener on what was a thoroughly impressive performance and result. With goals from Marouane Fellaini, Romelu Lukaku, and Marcus Rashford, Basel were dispatched comfortably on a rainy Tuesday night in Manchester.
United looked lively from the very beginning – creating half chances and dominating possession in the early minutes. However, an injury to Paul Pogba in the 18th minute could prove to be a big blow going forward for Jose Mourinho’s side. The extent of the injury remains to be seen, but the Frenchman appeared to tweak his hamstring having landed awkwardly.
The home side continued to knock on the door, as Henrikh Mkhitaryan failed to convert from three yards out. Striking the woodwork following a Romelu Lukaku cutback – it was a golden opportunity for the Armenian, who was United’s biggest threat in the first half. Although, it wouldn’t take long for United to get their first goal of the night, with 33 minutes on the clock.
A bit of trickery by Ashley Young was followed by a pinpoint cross from the right-hand side from the surprise inclusion. Rising above the defenders, substitute Marouane Fellaini headed in from close range to open the scoring. United made the most of the Belgian’s aerial presence, as Mourinho has transitioned Fellaini away from his scapegoat status – utilising him in a more attacking fashion.
Despite facing a solid five at the back setup and a team that only conceded 35 goals in 36 games last season, United had the firepower to break down the Swiss champion’s defence. As the second half kicked off, the lead was doubled by Lukaku. United came out of the blocks flying, looking to capitalise on the weary legs of the opposition.
The goal itself manifested this, as Lukaku pounced on a whipped corner to bag his sixth goal of the season in a United shirt. Having outmuscled two Basel men, Lukaku used brute force to bury the ball home with a powerful header – almost a carbon copy of Fellaini’s finish in the first half.
Nemanja Matic continued to run the show as he has in the Premier League, while Young’s introduction to the side provided both industry and creativity in the final third. Another substitute would seal the win for Mourinho’s side, as Rashford’s shot bounced over the keeper – the England international lashed at a Fellaini cross and put the game beyond Basel.
As for United’s opposition, they struggled to create going forward, having committed most of their men behind the ball. Basel made it no win in four games, as was the expected result going away to United – unlike their recent defeat to bottom of the table Lausanne-Sport. However, with a home game in the pipeline for the Swiss side, they should be much more confident in the reverse fixture.