Manchester United defeated Turkish giants Fenerbahce by four goals to one in a Europa group match at Old Trafford. It was a game that saw United playing with attacking verve they were known for in their more prosperous years. The match also witnessed the emotional return of United’s former striker Robin Van Persie who was given a uproarious ovation the moment he emerged from the tunnel and after scoring his side’s lone goal for the night.
Mourinho who had drawn flaks from all quarters for adopting a defensive approach to Liverpool’s game, this time around, set up his team to play attacking football. He made seven changes to the team that started against Liverpool at Anfield. And the inclusion of more creative players to the starting eleven contributed in no small way to the brilliance United exhibited in the match, a brilliance that found expression in the potency of their attack and the number of goals they scored.
The first goal of the match was a well- struck penalty kick from Paul Pogba. Anthony Martial scored the penalty kick which was awarded to United after he was pulled down by Sener inside the penalty box. Paul Pogba made it three for the home side with a curling shot taken from the edge of penalty box. Jese lingard scored United’s final goal of the night. Robin Van Persie scored Fenerbahce’s only goal of the match when he smashed Emmanuel a Emenike cross into United’s goal.
The United scored their first goal; the two sides did not create many chances. However, the home team dominated possession and hemmed Fenerbahce back in their own half of the pitch.
Wayne Rooney who occupied the center forward position was initiating attacking runs from both flanks and combining well with his team mates. He showed, with his energetic display, that his athleticism and positional sense has not deserted him.
Juan Mata troubled Fenerbahce with his movements and ball distribution. It was the foul on him by Simon Kjaer inside the opponent’s penalty box that won United their first penalty kick, which Pogba scored. His long ball to Antony Martial, which the French man latched onto before he was brought down by Sener, that gave United their second penalty.
Paul Pogba played with composure and intelligence;linking up with his team mates upfront and assisting with defensive duties. His kick penalty was a beauty to behold ,and so was the curling shot with which he scored his second goal from outside the penalty box. The young man is beginning to justify the huge amount spent to procure his services. Sunday’s match against Chelsea will be another opportunity for him put up another excellent display.
Fenerbahce had a chance to score in the first half – a quick interchange of passes amongst their players from the left flank free Souza to run into eighteen yard box, but his shot was pushed out of the goal post by De Gea with his well positioned leg.
Van Persie did not receive sufficient service from his mid-fielders in the course of the match, but showed his good positional sense when he popped into United’s penalty box to sweep Emenike’s cross into the net.
United continued to attack their opponent till the end of the game. Mata had a chance to increase the score line in the 77th minute when he received a pass from second half substitute Memphis Depay, but his shot was too feeble to worry Fenerbahce’s keeper.
United selection showed their strength in depth. Every position in the starting eleven has two players of great abilities vying for the opening slot. This is the situation that obtains in most big football clubs all over the world. The upcoming matches will show how Mourinho will coax out brilliant performances from the array of stars at his disposal.