Moscow: Romelu Lukaku made it 10 goals in nine games this season as Manchester United cruised to a 4-1 win over CSKA Moscow in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Lukaku scored twice in the first half off crosses from Anthony Martial, while Martial got his name on the scoresheet with a penalty. Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored in the 57th to make it 4-0, before CSKA scored a consolation goal.
Lukaku’s 10 goals are “a great achievement but it’s only possible with a good team,” United manager Jose Mourinho said. “He’s humble, he wants to learn all the time, he wants to improve all the time, so I think ambition is there.”
United’s second win in two Champions League games leaves it top of Group A, and Mourinho praised the team’s strong return to the competition after failing to qualify for last season’s edition.
“After one season outside, we come back and we come back in a strong way”, particularly away from home, he said. “It was a strong performance, a very strong start with great personality.”
Basel demolished Benfica 5-0 in the other game in the group to go second with three points.
United was without Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini due to injury, but replacements Nemanja Matic and Herrera were more than capable of controlling the midfield.
Mourinho singled out Herrera and defenders Victor Lindelof and Chris Smalling for praise as they were among the five changes made from Saturday’s 1-0 win over Southampton.
In attack, Lukaku, Martial and Mkhitaryan comprehensively outclassed CSKA’s three veteran center-backs, who had a combined age of 101. Only some spectacular saves from goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev stopped CSKA from being totally routed.
Lukaku soared above the 38-year-old Sergei Ignashevich to score his opening header in the fourth minute. The Belgian was left with a tap-in for his second in the 27th when Vasily Berezutsky failed to cut out a simple cross from Martial, and Ignashevich failed to react.
Martial’s penalty in the 19th minute came after Mkhitaryan ran into the box, outpacing wing-back Georgy Shchennikov, who brought the Armenian down with a desperate two-footed lunge.
Martial stepped up to hit the spot-kick low and hard to his right, sending keeper Igor Akinfeev the wrong way.
Mkhitaryan pleased the traveling fans from his native Armenia when he made it 4-0, knocking in a rebound after Akinfeev parried a shot from Martial.
Lukaku could easily have claimed a hat trick if it wasn’t for two good saves by Akinfeev, who performed well but was let down by his team’s poor defending.
Martial had a shot turned over in the 60th, and Akinfeev made another good stop to deny substitute Matteo Darmian in the 81st.
A day before, Mourinho had praised the current CSKA team as the best he’d seen from the Russian club, but the home side failed to live up to that billing.
By the start of the second half, many home fans preferred to focus on sending dozens of paper planes flying from the top tier, many making it onto the pitch.
CSKA’s Alan Dzagoev and Fyodor Chalov both forced saves from David De Gea in the first half. Otherwise the Russian team was little threat until CSKA substitute Konstantin Kuchaev hit a low shot past Akinfeev in the 90th.
“If we had a plan for this game, that plan was wrecked by the first goal,” coach Viktor Goncharenko said.