Manchester United kicked off their Champions League campaign with a 3-0 win at home to Basel on Tuesday, with goals from Marouane Fellaini, Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford proving sufficient to see off the Swiss visitors on a wet Old Trafford evening. However, it was a win marred by an early injury to Paul Pogba, who now looks set for a spell on the sidelines.
Less than a quarter of the game had gone when the Frenchman sustained a suspected hamstring injury, but already United should’ve been ahead. The first clear-cut chance of the game fell for Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the opening quarter-hour, though the Armenian headed Juan Mata’s dinked cross clean over the crossbar. It was the first of two golden opportunities for Mkhitaryan, the second coming when he turned Romelu Lukaku’s square pass against the post midway through the opening period.
In the end, it was Pogba’s replacement who delivered the goods, Fellaini giving United the lead seconds after Basel midfielder Luca Zuffi fluffed his lines in a rare opening at the other end. Some good old-fashioned counter-attacking wing play from Ashley Young culminated in a peach of a cross, which landed square on the big Belgian’s forehead before rippling the back of the net. United had dominated the opening period, and the slender lead was the least they deserved.
Basel appeared to have improved early in the second half, but it took less than eight minutes for Lukaku to double United's lead on his Champions League debut. The Belgian squeezed between two defenders to meet Daley Blind’s looping corner, heading beyond goalkeeper Tomáš Vaclík for 2-0. The game wasn’t completely over, as was evident when Basel’s Mohamed Elyounoussi wriggled free of Victor Lindelöf before drawing a good save from David de Gea, but United’s lead was a strong one.
The win was signed and sealed by Rashford with just over five minutes left, the young striker capping a comfortable victory by turning Fellaini’s low cross home at the far post. José Mourinho will surely be very content with the evening’s work — let’s just hope Pogba isn’t going to be out for too long.