Manchester United went clear atop Group A in the UEFA Champions League as they beat CSKA Moscow 4-1 at VEB Arena on Wednesday
Manchester United produced yet another four-goal salvo – their fifth this season – as they made short work of CSKA Moscow to trounce them 4-1 at VEB Arena on Wednesday. Jose Mourinho made five changes to the side that had won at Southampton on the weekend, but his men dominated proceedings throughout.
A raucous home crowd was silenced in no time as Romelu Lukaku headed from Anthony Martial’s pinpoint cross in the fourth minute. The Frenchman then got on the score sheet himself as he converted from the penalty spot after Henrikh Mkhitaryan brought down in the CSKA box by Georgi Schennikov.
FT: CSKA 1 #MUFC 4.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) September 27, 2017
Martial and Lukaku combined again, in the 26th minute, as he converted from another cross by the Frenchman from the left flank. The win was then rounded off shortly after play restarted in the second half when Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored from close-range after Martial’s shot was saved by Igor Akinfeev.
In fact, Akinfeev made several admirable saves to keep the scoreline a lot less embarrassing for his side. At the other end of the pitch though, the hosts had the final say in the match as Konstantin Kuchaev grabbed a late consolation goal. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Mourinho’s men.
David De Gea: 8.5/10
As solid as ever for Manchester United between the sticks. De Gea was once again crucial for his side despite the fireworks up front as he made two crucial saves, first from a low driving effort by Alan Dzagoev has dived to his right to deny the host the equaliser and, then reacting well to Fedor Chalov’s shot.
🇪🇸 David de Gea in 2017/18 for club & country:
Clean sheets 8
— Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) September 25, 2017
It is often said that the mark of a truly great goalkeeper is when he produces good saves on a night when he is rarely called into action, and De Gea did exactly that on Wednesday, with the CSKA ultras whistling him all night. The late goal was the only blot in an otherwise perfect night, but he could have done little to stop it.
Ashley Young: 7.5/10
Received the captain’s armband from Mourinho, and the veteran Englishman produced a performance worthy of it. Right from the early stages, Young looked up to the task at hand as he tracked back to deny Dzagoev an attempt at goal.
His crossing from the right flank might not have been up to the mark on the night, but he was a solid customer at the back as he continues establishing himself as a reliable option in defence for Mourinho. From being a step out of the Old Trafford exit door in January to where he is right now, it has been a huge turnaround indeed.
Eric Bailly: 7/10
Making his Champions League debut on the night, Bailly was a composed figure on the right side of the back-three as he negated the threat of the CSKA attack smartly. He could have done better to neutralise the threat of Konstantin Kuchaev to help De Gea keep a clean sheet, but it was a promising start in Europe for the Ivorian.
Victor Lindelof: 7.5/10
It has been a slow start to life as a Manchester United player for Lindelof, with Mourinho easing the Swede into the side. But, the manager’s “step by step” approach appears to be working as Lindelof seems to be growing in confidence with each outing.
Victor Lindelof will be given time to continue his ‘evolution’ at Manchester United – Jose Mourinho pic.twitter.com/C2lOvnLo3Z
— José (@MourinhoMindset) September 26, 2017
On Wednesday, he was aware with his positioning sense and disciplined whenever dealing with the opposition attackers. Undoubtedly, this was his best performance in his short Manchester United career, and one can only hope for better things from the player.
Chris Smalling: 7.5/10
Like Lindelof, starts have been hard to come by for Smalling. On Wednesday, making his fourth start of the season, the Englishman marshalled the back-line well while also rotating the ball effectively, playing the sweeper role superbly. A reliable option for Mourinho.
Daley Blind: 7.5/10
Reliable and solid at the back, threatening and assured going forward, there was little to pick apart from Blind’s performance on the night. Was deprived of a well deserved assist when Mkhitaryan spurned a great chance in the first half. The left wing-back slot seems like the best suited defensive role for the Dutchman.
Ander Herrera: 7/10
A rare start for the Spaniard, perhaps afforded the opportunity due to Marouane Fellaini’s injury, Herrera proved to be a reliable “deputy” in absence of some of the other midfielders. The Spaniard controlled the game well while also closing off spaces quickly.
His passing was top notch, as always, evidenced in particular in the build up to the fourth goal as he provided a perfectly weighted ball to Martial before Mkhitaryan eventually scored. He will be an important player for Mourinho as the season progresses.
Nemanja Matic: 8/10
Here’s another look at that unbelievable Nemanja Matic cross field pass to Darmian. Scholesque! pic.twitter.com/MWxDW87cb3
— The Man Utd Way (@TheManUtdWay) September 27, 2017
A player who made Manchester United fans and manager sweat over his fitness leading up to the match, Matic didn’t show any signs of the knock that he picked up at Southampton as he kept the CSKA attackers quiet while letting the players in front of him strut their stuff with freedom.
Made one of the early contenders for “Pass of the Season” as he found rampaging Darmian in the CSKA box with a spectacular diagonal pass. The importance of his presence just keeps on becoming more stark as the games go by.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan: 7.5/10
A smart performance by the Armenian after a few below par outings in recent weeks. Mkhitaryan was given a free role by Mourinho despite starting on the right side of the attack, and he used the freedom to good effect, creating and exploiting spaces well.
The player, though, was guilty of not making it 2-0 in the early stages of the first half when Blind found him with a searching pass, but he won the penalty that Martial converted soon after. Capped off his performance with a goal, and similar performances will help his side immensely.
Anthony Martial: 9/10
Anthony Martial in all competitions for Man Utd this season:
353 minutes ⏱
5 goals ⚽
4 assists 🅰️
Directly involved every 39.2 minutes. 😳 pic.twitter.com/UYf9OC25Lj
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 28, 2017
The resurgent season continues for Martial as he produced another dominating performance for his side on Wednesday. Unplayable for the most part, the Frenchman was a deserving man of the match after a night on which he toyed with the CSKA defence.
With two assists, a goal and a hand in the fourth goal, it was a near-perfect performance by Martial, who looks to be growing in confidence while also capturing his manager’s faith gradually. He now has made a direct contribution to six goals in his last three appearances, and is a key man for the Manchester United boss.
Romelu Lukaku: 8.5/10
The Belgian hardly has any doubters left after two months of prolific dominance on the field. On Wednesday, it was more of the same from Lukaku as two well taken goals made it ten in his first nine competitive appearances for Manchester United.
Romelu Lukaku has now scored 10 goals in 9 games for Man Utd across all competitions this season.
Rinse & repeat. pic.twitter.com/5F6FEkEK2D
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 27, 2017
The most impressive part of his early season performances for the Red Devils has been his linking up and understanding with Martial and Marcus Rashford, with the former combining brilliantly on the night. Lukaku could have also had a first Manchester United hat-trick, but was denied by Akinfeev on a number of occasions.