Belfast Telegraph

Pogba injury is a worry and Manchester United must stop playing Playstation football: Mourinho

Man United 3 Basel 0

By Simon Peach

Jose Mourinho is unsure about the severity of the hamstring injury sustained by Paul Pogba during Manchester United's straightforward, if not completely satisfactory, Champions League return.

Last night's Old Trafford encounter with Basle ended their 644-day absence from European football's top table and it was as comfortable a reintroduction as they could have hoped for.

Substitute Marouane Fellaini headed United into a deserved first-half lead and compatriot Romelu Lukaku followed suit early in the second period with his first goal in the Champions League group stage.

Marcus Rashford came off the bench to net his first goal in the competition and wrap up a 3-0 win against Basle on a night when Pogba's hamstring complaint took the gloss off the Group A victory.

An evening that started with him leading United out as captain for the first time was brought to a halt inside 19 minutes, with the 24-year-old seen leaving Old Trafford on crutches.

"It's three important points in the first match at home," Mourinho said.

"I don't know honestly (what is wrong with Pogba) but by experience, just by looking and feeling it, I think it is a hamstring. Big? Small? I don't know, but a hamstring for sure."

Mourinho will be sweating on the fitness of his star midfielder in a tough September that includes a trip to CSKA Moscow on top of domestic exertions.

The Russian side secured a shock 2-1 win at Benfica last night, while at Old Trafford some of United's second-half play frustrated their manager.

"We played quite well but after 2-0 everything changed," Mourinho added. "We stopped to play, we stopped to think, we stopped to play seriously, we stopped to make the right decisions.

"Bad decisions, fantasy football, PlayStation football, tricks and when you stop to play as a team I don't like, and you gamble a bit."

United's win was one of a number of large scorelines around Europe, with Paris St Germain, Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Barcelona securing comprehensive wins.

Asked if smaller sides were getting weaker or the big teams more powerful, Mourinho retorted: "For the Real Madrids, and the Barcelonas, and Bayerns, I think the Champions League starts in February.

"Now is just the warming up and in February when us English teams are trying to survive after the winter period, they are fresh and ready after this warm-up.

"We are in the second level and the second level is, let's make the points to qualify for the knockout phase."

Man Utd: De Gea, Young, Lindelof, Smalling, Blind, Pogba (Fellaini, 19 mins), Matic, Mata (Rashford, 78 mins), Mkhitaryan, Martial (Lingard, 70 mins), Lukaku. Unused subs: Romero, Carrick, Valencia, Darmian.

Basel: Vaclik, Akanji, Suchy, Balanta, Lang, Xhaka, Zuffi, Riveros (Oberlin, 77 mins), Steffen, van Wolfswinkel (Bua, 66 mins), Elyounoussi. Unused subs: Salvi, Gaber, Fransson, Schmid, Calla.

Man of the match: Marouane Fellaini

Match rating: 7/10

Referee: Ruddy Buquet (France)

Belfast Telegraph

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