Talking Points: United v Basaksehir
Manchester United recorded a comfortable 4-1 victory over Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League on Tuesday night, under the lights at Old Trafford.
NINETY MINUTES FOR CAVANI
Edinson Cavani made his long-awaited first start for United, spearheading a Reds attack which was free-flowing throughout the game. Flanked by Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford on either side, Cavani looked lively, and will be disappointed not to have marked the occasion with a goal. Ninety minutes of game time will do wonders for the match sharpness of El Matador, who could play a key role for the Reds as we navigate the hectic December schedule just around the corner.
Top of the Group Gallery
The Reds produced a classy performance to beat Istanbul Basaksehir at Old Trafford.
The United playmaker’s first goal was his 20th in a Red shirt, and it’s a tally that he’s reached, remarkably, in just 35 appearances – fewer than any other midfielder in the club’s history. Of course, in true Fernandes fashion, he went one better just 12 minutes later, notching goal number 21 with a close-range finish to double our lead. The Portuguese international had a chance to complete a first-half hat-trick moments later when the Reds won a penalty, but selflessly handed the ball to Marcus Rashford, who converted from the spot to net our third of the evening.
It was another standout performance from our Portuguese magnifico, with his two-goal return in the first half getting us up and running and on our way to three important points. His first effort was a thunderous hit that a certain Paul Scholes – who, for many years, famously donned the no.18 shirt that Bruno currently occupies – would have been proud of. Latching on to an Alex Telles corner that Basaksehir failed to deal with properly, Fernandes's stunning strike flew past Mert Gunok into the roof of the net.
The England forward continued his fine form in this season’s Champions League, winning and scoring his first-half spot-kick to put United in cruise control at the break. Rashford has now netted five goals in his last four games in the competition, and tonight became the youngest player to reach 15 European goals for the Reds (aged 23 years and 24 days), surpassing the record set by our all-time leading goalscorer, Wayne Rooney (23 years and 47 days).
Tonight’s win keeps us at the top of our group in the Champions League with nine points, ahead of Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig on six and Basaksehir on three. This means that the Reds require just one more point from our final two games to seal our spot in this season’s knockout stages. We face PSG on Wednesday 2 December at Old Trafford, before travelling to Germany for our final Group H game the following Tuesday.
Academy graduate Axel Tuanzebe, who was introduced as a half-time substitute in place of Victor Lindelof, picked up his third yellow card of this season’s Champions League. Frustratingly, this means the defender will be forced to watch our next Group H match against PSG from the stands. Given his magnificent performance at the Parc Des Princes in October and the key role he played in keeping the likes of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe quiet, this is the one real blow to emerge from an otherwise solid night’s work for the Reds.