A double from Paul Pogba helped Manchester United to a 4-1 victory over Turkish side Fenerbahce in tonight’s Europa League clash at Old Trafford.
Meetings between these two clubs in the past have produced some intriguing moments: from Elvir Bolic scoring the only goal at United in the 1996/97 season, which was their first European defeat at home, to Wayne Rooney netting a hat-trick in his first European game for United in 2004.
Jose Mourinho was in the middle of a tough week, this tie sandwiching games between Liverpool and Chelsea. But despite making seven changes from Monday’s bore draw at Anfield. it was still a strong side that took the field looking to boost United’s Europa League campaign. Wayne Rooney started, while Luke Shaw made his first start in a month.
Fenerbahce boasted one former United player in their ranks, Dutchman Robin van Persie, who was aiming to turn his stuttering start to the season around, like his English former strike partner Rooney. Another former Premier League star, ex-Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel, was aiming to get one over on his old club’s hated rivals.
It was the home side who had the first real chance on fifteen minutes, when Anthony Martial almost turned in a wonderful cross from Juan Mata.
The game swung decisively United’s was with just over half an hour gone, when they were awarded two penalties in fairly quick succession. First, Mata was hauled down by Simon Kjaer, Frenchman Pogba coolly slotting home from twelve yards.
Barely three more minutes had passed when French referee Benoit Bastien pointed to the spot again after Martial was bundled over by Sener Ozbayrakli. Martial dusted himself down to double United’s lead. He dispatched the kick into the same side of the goal as Pogba.
Fenerbahce almost found a way back into the game when Souza turned Eric Bailly, but his shot was dealt with by David De Gea.
Just before half-time, Pogba had his second. A Rooney cross was laid to him on a plate by Jesse Lingard, and United went in three goals to the good.
Lingard increased the lead even further after the break. He was found by Rooney, and slammed the ball home, giving Demirel no chance from the edge of the box.
United eased off the pedal, and Fenerbahce managed to get onto the scoresheet. And who else could it have been but RVP? Van Persie turned in a cross from substitute Emmanuel Emineke. Souza then tested De Gea as Fenerbahce threatened further.
But United comfortably saw off any threats, and their Europa League campaign was back on track. Next up is the small matter of Chelsea on Sunday, at Stamford Bridge.
By Steve Osborne @BlizzardSteve75