Fellaini and Lukaku head Manchester United to opening Champions League victory over Basel

Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku celebrates his goal with his teammates during the Champions League group A soccer match between Manchester United and Basel (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

Manchester United cruised to a 3-0 victory over Swiss champions FC Basel in their first Champions League match since December 2015.

In a match unsurprisingly dominated by the hosts, Basel failed to replicate the form they’ve previously shown against English opposition.

Having beaten Chelsea and Liverpool in recent years, one might’ve expected a closer tie.

In truth, a weak Basel were tamed as headers from substitute Marouane Fellaini and Romelu Lukaku either side of the half-time interval put Jose Mourinho’s men in cruise control.

Marcus Rashford then came off the bench to wrap up the clash and give United the best possible start to a group campaign which the Manchester side should top.

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£75 million man Lukaku showed a sign of things to come when he rifled a volley straight at goal – only to be denied by a last-ditch block.

The Red Devils have been in imperious form this season and, after drawing at Stoke on Saturday, Mourinho’s charges were in no mood to give quarter. Henrikh Mkhitaryan headed over from 10 yards following a fine Juan Mata pass.

Basel were looking dormant until they swung into action on the break. Renato Steffan was the first to try his luck, but his deft flick went harmlessly over the bar.

Lukaku again tried his luck from range as the game started to open up, but could only contrive to hit an effort straight down goalkeeper Tomas Vaclick’s throat, before Mourinho was forced into a change as Paul Pogba was left grounded.

Marouane Fellaini was the man to replace him on 19 minutes, and his introduction forced the game into life.  Three minutes later, Mkhitaryan prodded an effort against the post from four yards out – the rebound knocked straight back to Vaclick.

Luca Zuffi fizzed an effort wide for the visitors not long after, but within a minute United had edged in front. Ashley Young whipped an intricate ball into the box and Fellaini duly obliged, the big Belgian heading home from close range.


Mohamed Elyounoussi wasted a great chance to level the tie just three minutes later when he headed straight at David de Gea from close range, in what proved to be the last meaningful chance in the first half.

United flying came out of the traps for the second, though, and within eight minutes had doubled their lead. Anthony Martial forced a fine save from Vaclick after beating two men.

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The resulting corner was taken short and Daley Blind picked out Lukaku with unerring accuracy – the Belgium international making no mistake from six yards.

Basel failed to learn from their mistakes and Lukaku was picked out, unmarked, once more in the 62nd minute but could only head straight at Vaclick.

The Swiss side nearly got back into the game a minute later, when Elyounoussi was picked out in the penalty area and turned Victor Lindelof – only for De Gea to flick his shot over the bar.

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French youngster Martial was next to miss a chance for the hosts, before Young’s 20-yard shot forced a fine save from the Basel keeper.

Rashford – on for Martial – wrapped up proceedings with less than six minutes remaining when he scuffed an effort from 16 yards into the net, a cross from Fellaini missing two defenders to inexplicably pick out the England starlet.

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