Talking Points from Manchester United CSKA Moscow

Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were on target as Manchester United eased past CSKA Moscow 4-1 in their second Group Match in the Champions League. Substitute Konstantin Kuchayev pulled one back for the hosts, but it proved to be mere consolation as Mourinho’s men secure six points from their opening two group matches.

United opened the scoring in the 4th minute itself as Martial’s cross was easily headed by Lukaku past Akinfeev from close range. The visitors had another great chance as Blind’s inch-perfect pass fell to an unmarked Mkhitaryan whose shot was well saved by the outstretched Akinfeev. The Armenian was then tripped inside the box, and United were awarded a penalty which was confidently tucked in by Martial. Lukaku, who was playing only his second UCL game ever, then completed his brace after a huge mistake by the Moscow defence. Centre-back Berezutski completely missed the ball as Martial’s cross fell to an unmarked Lukaku who made no mistake in tapping the ball into the net. The home side also had some decent chances, and were kept quiet by a couple of world-class saves by De Gea, who saved long-range strikes by Dzagoev and Chalov to further frustrate the hosts.

The home side began the second half with a lot more intensity than the first, and threatened to comeback in the match. However the game was put beyond any doubts when Mkhitaryan scored United’s fourth goal of the night. Martial had only the keeper to beat but Akinfeev made a brilliant save to thwart the Frenchman, but his defence couldn’t clear the ball and Mkhitaryan pounced upon the rebound with lightening quick speed. The CSKA skipper was to thank for the respectable score-line, as without his outrageous saves from Martial, Lingard and Lukaku’s shots, the visitors could’ve scored even more goals. The other keeper, David De Gea, didn’t have a quiet game as well and he was forced to make super saves from Dzagoev and Vitinho. Just when United looked moments away from a dominant victory, Moscow’s players gave one last push and succeeded. Late substitute Kuchayev scored a goal minutes after coming on, with the ball finding its way into the net through De Gea’s legs near the far post.
With this win, United stay on top of Group A, while CSKA Moscow and FC Basel both have three points each.

With this win, United stay on top of Group A, while CSKA Moscow and FC Basel both have three points each.

Here are the major Talking Points from the match-

Martial Magic
This was Martial’s best performance in months, as he ran the show against CSKA tonight. He confidently sent Akinfeev to the wrong way from his spot kick, and also added two inch-perfect assists. The way he eased past defenders it really looked like he was playing PlayStation football (Sorry Jose!). All he now needs is to be a bit more consistent, and he’ll wreak havoc for sure. After all, if he can survive Jose’s love-hate relationship, he can survive anything.

Big Rom can’t stop scoring
Romelu Lukaku is a fantastic goal scorer, and that is exactly why he was signed for United. However, his start has exceeded everybody’s expectations and he’s now scored 10 goals in 8 games only. Even though both of his goals weren’t difficult, it certainly takes a lot of composure to finish chances, which he’s clinical at. All he now needs to do is to score in big games, and then he probably won’t be getting any stick anymore.

A tale of two ‘keepers
Both the goalkeepers tonight were in the form of their life. While De Gea has already cemented his place as one of the best in the world, Akinfeev has relatively been underrated sometimes. And make no mistake, even though he conceded four goals, he had a great game as it was he who stopped at least four more cracking shots which an average keeper couldn’t have saved. His team should be thanking him for keeping the score respectable. As for De Gea, his credentials need no explanation. His save from Dzagoev’s strike in the second half says everything about how good he is.

Versatile United
While Mourinho has preferred four at the back in the league, he did play with three at the back at the start of the season. And with the way his team has played with “five defenders”, he must be really happy as he now has a fool proof Plan B in case he isn’t able to crack open an opponent. His players seamlessly mould their play as per the formation. And they’re really good at that. Maybe Mourinho’s right. Maybe this is the best team he’s ever come to Russia with.