Manchester United put the disappointing loss they suffered in Turkey against Istanbul Basaksehir behind them to beat the Turkish side at home and take a step towards qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League.
Bruno Feranandes scored twice before Marcus Rashford converted a penalty and Dan James sealed the victory in stoppage time, meaning United have now scored 24 goals in their last six European outings at Old Trafford.
Basaksehir did manage the consolation goal that their creative play deserved but the home side’s positive mentality, attack-minded approach and forward passing led by Donny van de Beek, who took his chance in the starting lineup, was too much for United’s opponents.
Story of the game
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer chose to give starts to van de Beek and Edison Cavani, who was making his first appearance in a starting lineup since joining the club in the summer. Van de Beek was part of a two-man midfield with Fred while Paul Pogba was not included in the matchday squad due to a swollen ankle. Cavani led the line with three men behind him in what was an attack-minded approach for United.
The game also saw a return to Old Trafford for Rafael, who spent seven years at the club and made 170 appearances - he would have received a warm welcome had the stadium been open. The Brazilian played on the right of a back-four as part of Basaksehir’s 4-3-3.
United’s attacking lineup were at it from the off with Rashford running through the visiting defence before battling with Mert Gunok in an attempt to get the ball past the Turkish goalkeeper. Albeit that attempt was in vein, on seven minutes United had their lead in emphatic style.
Alex Telles swept a corner kick into the area, Bolingoli got a head to the delivery but it fell for Fernandes, outside of the box, who hit the ball sweetly on the half volley with the outside of his right boot to send a screamer into the roof of the net. The home side smelt blood: Rashford’s slotted finish through the goalkeeper’s legs was ruled out for offside moments later while Fernandes pulled a shot wide.
The home side didn’t have to wait too long for their lead to double after a dominant start. Another Telles delivery and another Fernandes finish but this time the Basaksehir goalkeeper played an unwanted part by allowing the cross to slip through his grasp affording an easy tap in for Fernandes.
That said, Basaksehir are a bold and brave club and wanted to get forward themselves on the Old Trafford pitch - the front-line’s press was impressive with them often braced like sprinters. Edin Visca had the visitors’s two best chances of the opening half with a wasteful shot wide and a free kick sent over the crossbar. Demba Ba also headed over despite being unmarked.
But United’s attacking was reaping greater rewards. Rashford, running into the area, was barged off the ball by Bolingoli which presented Fernandes with a hat-trick opportunity from the spot but the Portugal international passed up the chance, letting Rashford perform a stuttering run up before slotting the penalty into the right corner of Gunok’s goal.
With goals flying in Cavani was determined to get in on the act and score his 50th goal in European competition, he delayed a goalscoring attempt early in the second half which allowed a Basaksehir block. But despite United’s goals, their opponents were also managing attempts at goal with Visca going close again powering a low shot at the near post which David De Gea stretched to keep out.
Given the scoreline, Solskjaer was afforded the luxury of using the Champions League permitted five substitutions with Fernandes going off as part of the rotation; rest being more important than a hat-trick on this occasion. The changes did see United’s intensity slacken.
For the possession that Basaksehir were starting to mount in the rather disjointed second period they didn’t have anything to show for that nor their creativity (they managed 14 shots at goal). That was until Denis Turuc executed a left-footed free-kick which bent over the wall and in at the near post in the 75th minute. De Gea did get both hands to the shot but the ball had already passed the goal-line.
A shock could have been on the cards had Visca’s attempt not fired back off the crossbar minutes later. Suddenly United were making hard work of what should have been a simple exercise. What was once an expressive attacking display had started to turn into a slightly nervy defensive showing - a change that United supporters will be familiar with.
But substitutes Mason Greenwood and James did combine to convert a United fourth and seal victory following a move started by van de Beek. It was the Welshman’s fifth goal for the club in his 52nd appearance. With their final group games being against Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig in the next two weeks, United know that a point from either will take them through to the knockout stages.
Man Utd: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka (Williams 59), Lindelof (Tuanzebe 46), Maguire, Telles; van de Beek, Fred; Rashford (James 59), Fernandes (Greenwood 59), Martial (Matic 82); Cavani.
Basaksehir: Gunok; Rafael, Skrtel (Ponck 87), Epureanu, Bolingoli (Al Kaldirim 74); Turuc, Ozcan (Giuliano 74), Kahveci (Tekdemir 46); Visca, Ba, Chadli (Gulbrandsen 61).
Referee: O Hategan (Romania).