Another debut goal for Rashford as Mourinho’s men seal a professional victory over the Swiss champions
Jose Mourinho took part in the Champions League as a manager again with a fifth different club after FC Porto, Inter Milan, Chelsea and Real Madrid.
They returned to the Champions League after a one yeat hiatus, which was just their second absence in last 22 years.
Basel had become Champions League regulars, having won the Swiss league eight seasons in a row, but they had not enjoyed the best of starts to the 2017/18 campaign, winning just three times from 7 league matches.
Despite their semi-regular participation in the competition, they had not made much noise beyond the group stage. That being said, they had fared well in England, losing just one of their last six visits to the UK teams, twice taking points at Old Trafford.
Jose Mourinho made six changes to his side from the draw at Stoke. Eric Bailly and Phil Jones missed out due to suspension and were replaced in the centre of defence by Victor Lindelof and Chris Smalling. Ashley Young and Daley Blind came in at full-back at the expense of Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian, while Ander Herrera and Marcus Rashford were dropped with Juan Mata and Anthony Martial restored.
Raphael Wicky made just two changes to his Basel team who were stunned by a 2-1 defeat at home to Lausanne Sport at the weekend. Eder Alvarez Balanta came into the side to accomodate the switch to a three-man defence, while Mohamed Elyounoussi joined the attack, replacing Serey Die and Kevin Bua.
In the the 13th minute exactly what United were looking for was executed as they produced their most incisive attack of the night when Mata prung into the area along the right channel and flicked a clever cross in for an on-rushing Mkhitaryan, but the midfielder lifted his header over the bar.
Later in the 17th minute Paul Pogba etched awkwardly as he tried to win the ball in midfield, before immediately clutching his hamstring. He took a few steps and then dropped to the ground and signalled over to the bench. Marouane Fellaini immediately began his warm-up ,as the training staff came out and as Pogba continued limping-off, the replacement was made the very next minute.
The change proved out to be a boon for the red devil’s as on the 35th minute a piece of brilliance from Young who bended in an absolutely sensational cross for Fellaini and the Belgium international made no mistake in the finish with a brilliant header.
United were looking a comfortable ahead the typical defensively solid Mourinho side and they increased their lead on the 53rd minute courtesy of another absolutely exquisite delivery, this one by Blind from a corner. It just hung up there for Lukaku, who steered a header into the top corner to double United’s advantage and open his Champions League account.
Well ,the story didn’t end here as the highly rated rising star Marcus Rashford came in for Juan Mata in the 77th minute and just in the 84th settled the match steering a finish into the empty net after Fellaini’s pull-back somehow creeped through the legs of both Mkhitaryan and Xhaka.
The future seems to be impeccable for this lad as he has made a habit of scoring goals especially in his debut matches and this Champions League goal was just the icing on the cake.
It all ended up in a Convincing return to the Champions League for Jose Mourinho and Manchester United as they trounced Basel and up next for them is a visit to Moscow for a date with CSKA, while Basel return home for a must-win encounter with Benfica.
Ashley Young was named the ‘Man of the match’ for helping united to maintain their clean-sheet and set up United’s opener.