Man Utd 3 - Basel 0: Fellaini, Lukaku and Rashford help Red Devils cruise to victory

Man Utd 3 - Basel 0: Fellaini, Lukaku and Rashford help Red Devils cruise to victory Man Utd 3 - Basel 0: Fellaini, Lukaku and Rashford help Red Devils cruise to victory

It did not dampen Manchester United’s start to the game against the Swiss champions, who had drawn on their two previous visits to Old Trafford. It was one-way traffic from the kick-off. Romelu Lukaku almost put United ahead in the first minute when Anthony Martial flicked on Juan Mata’s corner. His half-volley was heading into the net but struck Manuel Akanji on the chest and flew over.

Clever link-up play between Lukaku, Martial and Mata resulted in a chance for Henrikh Mkhitaryan but his headed effort flew over. Lukaku had made a lively start and saw a low shot saved by Tomas Vaclik before United suffered a big blow in the 18th minute when Paul Pogba pulled up clutching his left hamstring after going in for a challenge on Mohamed Elyououssi. He went straight to the deck and was replaced by Marouane Fellaini.

It was a disappointing end to Pogba’s first game as captain. But United remained on the front foot and were unlucky not to take the lead when Mkhitaryan had three attempts to convert a Lukaku cross. His first shot went under Vaclik’s body and hit the post, his second was saved by the goalkeeper and his third was blocked by Akanji.

Basel threatened for the first time when Luca Zuffi shot well wide after United had only partially cleared a cross. But Fellaini eased the growing sense of anxiety by heading the Red Devils in front after 35 minutes.

Mkhitaryan sprayed a pass out to Ashley Young on the right and he made room for a curling cross that was meat and drink for someone of Fellaini’s stature and physical presence. He climbed high above his marker to power home a header to give United the breakthrough.

Basel’s record at Old Trafford meant Manchester United had every reason to treat them with every respect and knew they needed an early goal after the break to kill off the Swiss team and they did not have to wait long.

Martial had a shot tipped round by Vaclik and from the corner Lukaku scored. Daley Blind played a one-two with Mata from the corner before swinging over a cross as inviting as Young’s had been for Fellaini’s goal. This time it was Lukaku who converted to make it a Belgian double. He muscled his way into a gap between Elyounoussi and Marek Suchy to head home.

United were in total command now and Michael Lang was cautioned for a crude foul to stop Martial in his tracks. From Mkhitaryan’s free-kick, Lukaku again exposed Basel’s vulnerability in the air by powering in a header that Vaclik pushed round for a corner.

Basel, however, reminded United of their threat after Mkhitaryan gave the ball away. Only a brilliant save by David De Gea prevented Elyounoussi from pulling a goal back after he had cleverly spun round Lindelof to fire in a shot.