Bern - Paul Pogba was the driving force with a brace as
Manchester United recovered from a shaky start to record an ultimately
convincing 3-0 win away to Young Boys in their opening Champions League game in
Bern on Wednesday.
Skipper Pogba's superb opening goal cut down the Swiss
champions in their prime, and he then doubled the English side's lead from a
penalty just before the break.
The France star also set up the third goal for compatriot
Anthony Martial in the second half, as Jose Mourinho's side safely negotiated
this fixture on the synthetic surface at the Stade de Suisse.
Mourinho said after the game that he did not expect Pogba to
score in every match, but added: "If he starts arriving in possible
scoring positions that can be a plus for the team, so I am happy with that.
"The team had good stability in midfield, and allowed
him to go to these kind of positions."
Seemingly a club in crisis at the end of August following
their 3-0 home defeat against Tottenham Hotspur, this was United's third
straight win since then, all away from home.
Tougher tests await in Group H, though, with Valencia due at
Old Trafford in a fortnight and Juventus to come after that.
"I am happy with the good solid performance of the team
more than any individual," Mourinho added.
"We knew we needed to win this match, we knew it was
very important to go to the next three matches against Valencia and Juventus
twice with these three points, and we did that."
There were plenty of reasons to be wary of this trip, with
United having lost to Basel on their last two visits to Switzerland, while
Mourinho also lost in Basel with Chelsea in 2013.
The surface here was deemed a sufficient hazard by Mourinho
for him to leave Antonio Valencia out of his squad. That meant a debut for
Portuguese teenager Diogo Dalot, signed in the close season from FC Porto.
His introduction was one of five changes made by Mourinho
following the weekend win at Watford, with Martial also coming in for his first
start since the defeat at Brighton a month ago.
It was a huge occasion for Young Boys, Swiss champions last
season for the first time since 1986 and making their Champions League group
They were driven on by an electric atmosphere generated by a
crowd of over 31,000 and were the better team for 35 minutes.
With Swiss starlet Kevin Mbabu a driving force from
right-back, the hosts saw Guillaume Hoarau head just wide while Mohamed Ali
Camara and Christian Fassnacht both tested David de Gea from range.
Marcus Rashford hit the outside of the post from a Luke Shaw
cross, but the visitors were largely passive, seemingly waiting to pounce on a
mistake, or for a moment of magic.
That is what happened 10 minutes before the interval as
Pogba's superb footwork on the edge of the box set him up to lash a shot beyond
goalkeeper David Von Ballmoos and into the roof of the net.
He had his first Champions League goal since returning to
Old Trafford in 2016, and it deflated the buoyant home support.
Still, Young Boys would have maintained a fighting chance
had they gone in just one goal behind at the interval. But the decision by
German referee Deniz Aytekin to award United a penalty two minutes before the
break effectively killed the game.
Shaw's cross struck the arm of Mbabu from close range. It
was a harsh call and highlighted the absence of Video Assistant Referees in the
Pogba converted the spot-kick, and with the home side unable
to find a way back into the game after half-time, he was also the architect of
the visitors' third goal midway through the second half.
After a driving run towards the penalty box, the captain set
up Martial, whose low shot beat Von Ballmoos with the aid of a slight