Man United, Chelsea open with Champions League wins
- 13 Sep 2017 at 03:55
- WRITER: AGENCIES
Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku (second left) and teammates celebrate after Lukaku scored the second Manchester United goal in the match against Basel at Old Trafford. (AP photo)
MANCHESTER: Romelu Lukaku kept up the impressive start to his Manchester United career by scoring the second goal in a 3-0 win over Basel on the opening night of the Champions League on Tuesday.
Since joining from Everton for 75 million pounds ($97 million) in the offseason, the Belgium striker has scored in the UEFA Super Cup on his competitive debut, two goals on his first start in the Premier League, and now on his first appearance in the Champions League group stage.
Marouane Fellaini, on as a 19th-minute substitute for the injured Paul Pogba, opened the scoring with a close-range header in the 35th before Lukaku climbed between two defenders to nod home in the 53rd. It was Lukaku's sixth goal in six appearances for United.
Benfica 1, CSKA Moskva 2
Manchester United 3, FC Basel 0
Celtic 0, Paris Saint Germain 5
Bayern Munich 3, RSC Anderlecht 0
Chelsea 6, FK Qarabag 0
Roma 0, Atletico Madrid 0
Barcelona 3, Juventus 0
Olympiakos Piraeus 2, Sporting Lisbon 3
Substitute Marcus Rashford completed the win in the 77th minute, scuffing a shot into the ground and over the goalkeeper.
United manager Jose Mourinho said the club, a three-time European champion, was back in its "natural habitat" after being absent from the Champions League last season. United only qualified for Europe's top competition by winning the Europa League in May and this was a gentle introduction to Group A. Basel, the Swiss champion for the last eight years, offered little resistance on a rainy evening at Old Trafford.
The negative for Mourinho was the sight of Pogba - United's captain for the match in the absence of Antonio Valencia - hobbling off with an apparent left hamstring injury, sustained as he went in for a challenge. The France midfielder tried to carry on but fell to the ground in pain.
Pogba had two short spells out with hamstring problems in the second half of last season.
United didn't end up missing Pogba too badly, with Fellaini making an impact as his replacement - a day after Mourinho said the tall midfielder was "a lot more important than you can imagine."
Chelsea crush Qarabag
In London, Chelsea enjoyed a triumphant return to the Champions League after a year out on Tuesday, thumping the competition's debutants Qarabag 6-0, including a stunning, if miscued, strike from new signing Davide Zappacosta.
The Azeri champions were never any match for their English counterparts and it took only five minutes for Pedro to open the scoring with a curling shot from the edge of the area.
Deadline-day signing Zappacosta, apparently looking to cross the ball, produced a swirling screamer of a goal from some 35 metres out on the half hour.
Chelsea ran riot in the second half, with goals from defender Cesar Azpilicueta, new French signing Tiemoue Bakayoko and two from Michy Batshuayi rounding off an impressive display against the Group C underdogs.
In Rome, AS Roma clung on a for a 0-0 draw at home to Atletico Madrid in their opening game, thanks to a string of fine saves from goalkeeper Alisson on Tuesday.
The Serie A side were also indebted to a superb goal-line clearance by Kostas Manolas from Koke, immediately followed by another Alisson save, in the first half of the Group C game.
Meanwhile, in Barcelona, Lionel Messi finally scored against goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon as Barcelona beat Juventus 3-0 in their first match of the Champions League group stage.
Messi grabbed his 95th and 96th goals in the Champions League, breaking the deadlock just before the end of the first half. After he had hit the post and played a part in Ivan Rakitic's second goal, Messi beat Buffon again to round off the commanding win.
Messi's goals were his first ever against the 39-year-old Buffon, who had kept him without a goal in three previous meetings.
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