Manchester United kicked off their Champions League campaign with a 3-0 win away at Young Boys on Wednesday. A first-half brace from Paul Pogba was followed up by a second-half strike from Anthony Martial, though the game wasn’t quite as easy as the scoreline suggests.
Indeed, if United headed into the game anticipating a walkover, they were soon reminded that there are rarely easy European away games. Former Newcastle United full-back Kevin Mbabu terrorised Luke Shaw with his blistering pace in the opening exchanges, and Guillaume Hoarau might have done better when glancing his early cross wide.
But despite José Mourinho’s side’s early struggles in possession, David de Gea was only tested from distance. Piledrivers from Mohamed Camara and Christian Fassnacht would both have stung the Spaniard’s palms, though were relatively routine saves. Fassnacht should’ve done better after leaving Diogo Dalot — otherwise very impressive on debut — on his backside just past the half-hour, though his shot didn’t match its build-up, and was blocked before troubling it could trouble the keeper.
At the other end, United’s went closest through Marcus Rashford, whose deft flick on a low Shaw cross kissed the outside of the post. That was until a moment of brilliance from Pogba 10 minutes from the interval, in which he made the most of some tight space on the edge of the area to curl into the top corner. Despite minimal backlift, the Frenchman got remarkable power and precision on his shot, and goalkeeper David von Ballmoos stood no chance.
With just two minutes to go until the break, United doubled their lead — though it was as much thanks to a dodgy refereeing decision as anything else. A whipped Shaw cross hit Mbabu’s arm — held tight to his body — inside the box, and a penalty was awarded. Pogba stepped up, and found the top corner for the second time. The halftime score rather flattered Mourinho’s men.
The goals had rather taken the sting out of the game, and the second half started markedly less eventfully than had the first. That was partly thanks to United’s much improved play in possession, which enabled them to dominate the ball and sap the energy from their hosts.
It took until five minutes past the hour, but eventually United did add to their advantage. A swift counter-attack caught Young Boys’ defence napping, and Pogba laid on an assist for Martial to tuck a deflected shot inside the near post. The simple goal all-but-confirmed a deceptively hard-earned win, which would’ve been bigger had Romelu Lukaku’s late goal not been ruled out for offside. Mourinho is sure to be pleased to be heading home with the points in the bag.