Manchester United cruised to a 4-1 win away at CSKA Moscow on Wednesday, as they made it two from two in this season’s Champions League. A brace from Romelu Lukaku and goals from Anthony Martial and Henrikh Mkhitaryan made for a comfortable win, as the Reds maintained their perfect start in European competition.
It took less than five minutes for United to open the scoring, with Lukaku clambering above his marker to bundle Martial’s deep cross into the back of the net. José Mourinho would doubtless have been expecting his hosts to put up some stubborn resistance, but the breach had come pleasingly early.
It wasn’t all one-way traffic in the opening exchanges, and only a great save from David de Gea, springing low to his right, prevented one-time wonderkid Alan Dzagoev from driving home a swift equaliser. But CSKA’s problem was that their flicker of attacking promise was undermined by some woeful defending, next in evidence when Georgi Shchennikov clumsily bundled Mkhitaryan over in the penalty area. Martial stepped up and rolled the ball home with characteristic aplomb, United two goals up within the game’s first quarter.
It took less than half-an-hour for Lukaku to net his second and United’s third: a low Martial cross should’ve been routinely cleared by the experienced Vasili Berezutski, though he wafted at thin air and left the Belgian striker with a tap-in at the back stick. For a team set up to keep things tight, the hosts sure were loose at the back: the game was over with an hour still to play.
United’s work may have been done, but de Gea still had to tend to occasional housekeeping. Some smart play by Dzagoev bought space for teenage attacker Fyodor Chalov, though his rising effort from the edge of the penalty area was expertly palmed over by United’s Spanish shot-stopper in the last action of the first half.
Not content with just a brace, Lukaku also remained alert, and went close to sealing his hat-trick within minutes of the restart. The ball sat up in the box for the Belgian, though his powerful drive was excellently parried. In the end it was Mkhitaryan who added the fourth, tapping home a rebound after Martial was denied just short of the hour.
Goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev was CSKA's top performer by quite some distance, and only a great save prevented Jesse Lingard from adding a fifth within seconds of appearing off the bench. He was soon called into action again to deny another substitute, Matteo Darmian, after a defence-splitting pass from Nemanja Matić.
United's only real lapse came in the game's dying moments, when CSKA managed to muster a consolation. After a fine performance, there was nothing de Gea could do to deny youngster Konstantin Kuchayev, who brought down Aleksandr Golovin’s chipped pass before slotting home. 4-1 was how things ended.