MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Nov 24 – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted Manchester United are back on track after they avenged their humbling Champions League defeat against Istanbul Basaksehir with a 4-1 rout of the Turkish side on Tuesday.
Solskjaer’s team crashed to a shock 2-1 loss at the hands of the Group H outsiders in Istanbul earlier in November.
But there was never any chance of another upset as United ran Basaksehir ragged at Old Trafford.
Bruno Fernandes was the catalyst with a stunning long-range opener early in the first half.
He doubled the lead before passing up a hat-trick chance when he allowed Marcus Rashford to convert the penalty that brought United’s third goal before half-time.
Basaksehir’s Deniz Turuc netted a fine free-kick but, after a late United wobble, Daniel James struck in the final moments to seal the points.
“I felt first half we saw the intent straight away, they wanted to play and they enjoyed it,” Solskjaer said.
“It’s a Champions League night at Old Trafford, you’d expect them to enjoy themselves. We scored some very nice goals, I’m pleased.”
United’s third win from four group matches means one point from their last two games against Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig would secure their place in the last 16.
“We need one point, but of course we want to be top of the group but we’ll take it one game at a time,” Solskjaer said.
United’s loss in Istanbul had raised serious questions about Solskjaer’s ability to hold onto his job.
But successive Premier League wins against Everton and West Brom, followed by this emphatic success, have eased the pressure on Solskjaer a little.
Solskjaer named Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani in the starting line-up for the first time since his signing in October.
With Paul Pogba still sidelined by a swollen ankle, there was a rare start for Dutch midfielder Donny van de Beek.
“The two are getting used to how we want them to play. Donny can play in different positions and Edinson is a good old fashioned number nine. We haven’t had that for a while,” Solskjaer said.
Both Cavani, who has scored once in seven appearances for United, and Van de Beek did their chances of a more regular action no harm with solid displays, but it was Fernandes and Rashford who stole the show.
– Rampant United –
United tore into their overwhelmed visitors and they deservedly took the lead in the seventh minute.
When Alex Telles’ corner was only cleared to the edge of the area, Fernandes let it bounce before unleashing a thunderous strike that flashed into the roof of the net.
It was the Portugal midfielder’s eighth goal of the season and his second in successive games.
Rampant United doubled their lead in the 19th minute with a gift from Mert Gunok.
Telles’ cross should have been easy for Gunok, but he seemed distracted by Cavani’s half-hearted attempt to reach it and dropped the ball to Fernandes, who had the simple task of slotting into the empty net.
Fernandes’ impact on United has been huge since he arriving from Sporting Lisbon in January, the 26-year-old now directly involved in 34 goals in 35 games in all competitions for United.
United were in total control and the third goal came courtesy of Rashford’s electric pace in the 36th minute.
Sprinting onto Victor Lindelof’s long pass, Rashford surged into the Basaksehir area before being barged over by Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo.
Fernandes was on a hat-trick and had scored a penalty against West Brom on Saturday.
He let Rashford take the penalty instead this time and the England forward sent Gunok the wrong way for his fifth Champions League goal in four games this season.
Basaksehir got one back in the 75th minute when Turuc’s superb free-kick went over the line despite De Gea’s attempt to claw it out.
James finished off Mason Greenwood’s pass in stoppage-time for his first United goal since March.