Lukaku celebrates as the two Belgians do the damage for United to begin their European campaign in fine style
Better than Zlatan Ibrahimovic, better than Wayne Rooney, better even than Ruud Van Nistelrooy. Romelu Lukaku’s first season impact at Manchester United has redefined the phrase ‘hit the ground running’.
To outstrips this group over his first six appearances is one thing, however – but Lukaku is even ahead of Cristian Ronaldo at the same stage of his 42-goal season. Ronaldo had just one goal after six matches that year; Lukaku already has six. Add his four for Belgium on international duty and Manchester United’s marquee summer signing is already into double figures for 2017-18. The match with Leicester, on August 26, is the only one he hasn’t scored in so far – finding the net against everyone else from Gibraltar, to Real Madrid.
Tuesday night, he put the game beyond an underwhelming Basel side, too timid to threaten United, and ultimately overpowered by the sheer size of the opposition as much as the task. Headed goals from Lukaku and Marouane Fellaini separated these teams before Marcus Rashford made it three, although it would be wrong to say United won with mere brute force. This was an assured display. Not as lively as the cream of Europe, perhaps – Barcelona and Paris St Germain might have made them look sluggish by comparison – but always in command of the tie and not for a moment flattered by the margin of victory.
Marouane Fellaini came on to kick-off Manchester United's Champions League campaign with a goal in a 3-0 win over Basle
Fellaini opened the scoring for Manchester United after latching on to a superbly weighted cross from Ashley Young
Fellaini came on for Paul Pogba after the Frenchman appeared to tweak a hamstring and was substituted after just 19 minutes
But Romelu Lukaku doubled the lead when he headed home to register his first goal in Champions League football
Marcus Rashford then made it three when he was found in acres of space with just five minutes to go and slotted home