Lukaku exemplifies United's offensive prowess

Manchester united striker Romelu Lukaku lashing past CSKA Moscow ’keeper Igor Akinfeev in the 27th minute. The Belgian hotshot has already notched 10 goals in just nine games
Manchester united striker Romelu Lukaku lashing past CSKA Moscow ’keeper Igor Akinfeev in the 27th minute. The Belgian hotshot has already notched 10 goals in just nine gamesPHOTO: REUTERS

MOSCOW • "Amazing numbers," Jose Mourinho said in his post-match press conference.

The Manchester United manager was talking about Romelu Lukaku, who had just scored his ninth and 10th goals in nine appearances for the club, but he might just as easily have been discussing the team as a whole.

United recorded another highly convincing victory with a 4-1 win over CSKA Moscow, another four-goal haul for a side who have rediscovered their killer instinct.

Lukaku has been a significant part of that equation, but United's improvement has been collective.

"It is a great achievement," Mourinho said of Lukaku's goal return, "but it is only possible with a good team. The team is solid, playing well."

For the fifth time in 10 matches this season, United scored four times.

Winning margins have flattered United on occasions, as Mourinho has admitted, but Wednesday's performance was dominant and controlled from start to finish.

They were 3-0 up inside 27 minutes, with the excellent Anthony Martial setting up the first and third goals for Lukaku and converting a penalty for the second.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored the fourth early in the second half and United eased off long before Konstantin Kuchaev scored CSKA's consolation goal.

One cannot ignore just how abysmal the home team were though. Their coach, Viktor Goncharenko, admitted that his team had been "destroyed", saying that the speed of some of their opponents' play was "beyond my understanding".

That United's latest victory was achieved even though Antonio Valencia, Phil Jones, Michael Carrick, Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini were missing delighted Mourinho even more.

He opted for a three-man central defence. Victor Lindelof, the summer signing from Benfica, had his most comfortable night at United, joining Eric Bailly and Chris Smalling in the back three. Ashley Young and Daley Blind performed well in the wing-back roles.

Mourinho's only gripe was that United face a quick turnaround before tomorrow afternoon's hosting of bottom club Crystal Palace in the Premier League.

"We have now just one more game, a difficult one, against a fresh team when we are still here (in Moscow) and we have a game on Saturday at three o'clock," he said.

THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2017, with the headline 'Lukaku exemplifies United's offensive prowess'. Print Edition | Subscribe