Romelu Lukaku nets brace as United cruise past CSKA Moscow
Champions League Group A, VEB Arena - CSKA Moscow 1 (Kuchaev 89') Manchester United 4 (Lukaku 4', 27'; Martial 18' pen; Mkhitaryan 57')
A superb attacking performance from Manchester United, against an admittedly dismal CSKA, leaves them at the top of Group A and very close to qualification.
Within four minutes United were ahead, Romelu Lukaku scoring yet again after combining well with the outstanding Anthony Martial. And a quarter of an hour later Martial doubled their advantage, easily slotting home from the penalty spot after Georgi Schennikov needlessly brought down the also outstanding Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
At 2-0 the game seemed over; at 3-0, it definitely was and just the 26th minute too, Lukaku profiting from two consecutive errors to tap home almost apologetically. United might well have gone on to administer a serious beating, but were denied by the excellence of Igor Akinfeev; they scored just once in the second half, Mkhitaryan following up when Martial’s shot was saved.
Though United kept going until the end - they were chastised by Jose Mourinho for easing up against Basel - they conceded a goal in the final minute, Konstantin Kuchaev finishing well after being fed by the promising Aleksandr Golovin. They'll get over it.
What to do with Anthony Martial? Martial has been superb every time he has stepped onto the pitch this season, and deserves better than job-sharing with Marcus Rashford. Both should start against Crystal Palace on Saturday, with Juan Mata missing out.
Romelu Lukaku of Manchester United celebrates after he scores his sides third goal during the UEFA Champions League group A match against CSKA MoscowGetty Images
MAN OF THE MATCH
Anthony Martial (Manchester United) Scored once and assisted thrice, but more notable was the confidence and verve of his general play. In particular, his close control is fantastic, and no defender will relish him running at them.
Anthony Martial (Manchester United) Getty Images
4’ - GOAL! CSKA Moscow 0-1 Manchester United (Lukaku) Obviously. Lukaku holds up and sends left to Martial, who comes inside on his right to curl a cross into the middle towards the back post, where Lukaku is just too much for Ignashevich, leaping high to smack a header inside the near post.
18’ - PENALTY UNITED! Schennikov slides in on Mkhitaryan for absolutely no reason - he's on the right of the box, having just cut in, so danger is not imminent. And it's a clear penalty.
19’ - GOAL! CSKA Moscow 0-2 Manchester United (Martial pen) This lad could become one of the great penalty takers. He ambles up, shimmies, waits for the keeper to move left and slots right.
26’ - GOAL! CSKA Moscow 0-3 Manchester United (Lukaku) United barely even celebrate this one. Mkhitaryan and Martial prompt outside the box, Martial sways inside Fernandes, crosses, and Berezutski makes an unbelievable hash of clearing. Lukaku, meanwhile, gambles, using his power and strength to anticipate the mistake while Ignashevich ruminates on life, and taps in before posing, arms crossed. If CSKA don't buck-up at the back, they're going to take a serious pasting; not easy with the game already gone.
57’ - GOAL! CSKA Moscow 0-4 Manchester United (Mkhitaryan) Another miserable error from Ignashevich, who passes to Matic. He immediately sets Martial away, and though Akinfeev beats away his dig from just outside the box, Mkhitaryan is the only man following in, and he clips home a tidy finish from a tightish angle.
90’ - GOAL! CSKA Moscow 1-4 Manchester United (Kuchaev) Mourinho looks displeased. Golovin slips Kuchaev in, he controls well on his chest, and then slips a finish across and under De Gea, assuming that's etymologically possible.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Manchester United) Getty Images
Romelu Lukaku has scored 10 times in nine games so far this season.
Anthony Martial has had a hand in six of United's last seven goals.
United have now scored three or more goals in six of their 10 matches in all competitions.