The Red Devils marked their return to Europe’s elite competition with a victory
Tuesday, September 12, 2017
Jose Mourinho believes his Manchester United side’s routine 3-0 win over Basel in the Champions League will prove crucial in an ‘open’ Group A.
The Red Devils marked their return to the Champions League with a comfortable win at Old Trafford thanks to goals from Marouane Fellaini, Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford.
Elsewhere in Group A, United’s next opponents CSKA Moscow secured an impressive away victory at Benfica ahead of welcoming Mourinho’s side to Russia on September 27.
And Mourinho believes the competitive nature of the group will require Old Trafford to become something of a fortress as his side aim to progress to the knockout stages.
“I think it’s an open group,” Mourinho told talkSPORT.
“As I was saying before the group phase, any team can take points from another team.
“[It was] three important points in our first match at home.
“We finish at home too, which gives us the chance to play here in case we need points to qualify.
“But in between, we have difficult matches away from home. But to start with three points at home is always important.”
Paul Pogba’s first half injury put a dampener on United’s evening as the French midfielder hobbled off with a hamstring complaint just past the quarter hour.
The club-record signing was made captain on the night before being replaced by the often maligned figure of Marouane Fellaini.
But the Belgian midfielder made a telling impact from the bench by scoring the opening goal and setting up Marcus Rashford for a third goal late on.
And Mourinho reiterated the importance to which he holds Fellaini’s presence in the squad despite a summer of transfer talk linking him with an Old Trafford exit.
“To remember a bad Fellaini performance I have to go back to last season.
“It wasn’t even a bad performance, it was just a naïve mistake when he gave away a penalty in the last minute at Goodison Park.
“Apart from that, Fellaini’s contribution to my team is always positive – when he starts or when he’s on the bench – he’s a very important player for me.”