Manchester United 4 Istanbul Basaksehir 1
Manchester United were accomplished in a victory that gives them nine points and firm control of Group H. Bruno Fernandes once more proved the key man in Ole Gunnar Solskjær's side, decorating the win with two goals in his latest dazzling all-round display.
The ascendancy enjoyed by United for most of the contest seemed to make the 2-1 defeat against the same opponents three weeks ago feel particularly odd until Deniz Turuc’s 75th-minute free-kick that squeezed past David De Gea. Edin Visca then hit the bar to remind how carelessness can be costly. By the close, though, United were worthy victors and have now won their last three matches in all competitions.
The Uruguayan Edinson Cavani was given a first start in a United frontline that also featured Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial. Nacer Chadli, replacing Danijel Aleksic, was Basaksehir's sole change from their win at home.
A Rashford burst that took three Basaksehir players out of the game thanks to his pace and footwork ended with a tame shot straight at Mert Gunok. This, though, suggested United were seeking to allow no repeat of the capitulation in Turkey’s capital.
When Alex Telles's corner from the left was inadvertently flicked on by Alexandru Epureanu, Fernandes connected with as pure a half-volley as possible from the edge of the box. The ball rocketed past Gunok into the roof of the net for the perfect start seven minutes in.
United were a whir of energy and invention. Martial, operating on the left, stood a ball up that narrowly missed Cavani’s leap. Rashford beat Gunok through his legs but was ruled offside. Martial, Fernandes, Cavani and Donny van de Beek combined for Fernandes to aim right of Gunok’s goal.
As in Istanbul the only danger for United seemed to be of their own making and there was a warning when Demba Ba, who scored the opener there, received the ball near halfway and was pushed over by Victor Lindelöf after loose play by the hosts.
So, too, when Berkay Ozcan drifted past four United defenders and the ball went sideways to Visca who should have done better than skewing wide of David de Gea’s goal.
Now, though, it was Basaksehir who were guilty of a self-inflicted blow. Martial found Telles and his cross was dropped by Gunok into Fernandes’s path and he finished for an impressive ninth in 13 appearances.
Basaksehir had been reduced to whatever scraps United allowed. Ba tried a snapshot, Irfan Kahveci chipped the ball straight out and, then, United had a third. Lindelöf planted a 70-yard pass into Rashford's path and Boli Bolingoli took him down to concede a penalty. After a long VAR review during which the usual taker Fernandes stood over the kick before handing the ball to Rashford, the latter converted with ease to Gunok's left.
Fernandes came close to a hat-trick when slipped through by Rashford but was denied by the goalkeeper. And while Ba's deflected effort off Harry Maguire was a warning, United were coasting by the break.
For the second half Lindelöf was replaced by Axel Tuanzebe, the Swede's recent back strain perhaps being a factor. Fernandes - yet again - drove United forward with a mazy run that ended with him turning the ball to Cavani. After the No 7's own shimmy his shot went for a corner off Epureanu.
This yielded nothing and now De Gea was called into action as Basaksehir moved upfield, Visca cutting in from the left and unloading a shot, forcing United's goalkeeper to save low to his right. After a frantic call from United coach, Kieran McKenna, to Tuanzebe to "go near post" the resulting corner was cleared and the red shirts continued their dominance. Fernandes flipped a cross in and Rafael Da Silva kneed the ball into Gunok's hands.
Solskjaer decided on a triple substitution with Mason Greenwood, Brandon Williams and Daniel James coming on for Rashford, Fernandes and Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Greenwood instantly oozed class by anticipating a Visca pass, knocking the ball beyond Bolingoli and skating into the area to claim a corner.
His header from the delivery led to another and this time Maguire headed over. A passage of Basaksehir play now developed in which Tuanzebe’s vocal organisation was noticeable in the empty stadium as United, once more, took control.
By the end they were worthy victors as Daniel James added a late fourth.- Guardian