Paul Pogba scored twice as Manchester United opened their Champions League Group H campaign with a comfortable win over Young Boys in Bern.
Linking with Brazilian Fred, Pogba was inventive and precise for his first goal, checking on to his left foot and finding the top left corner from 18 yards.
The France midfielder then doubled his tally with a penalty after home defender Kevin Mbabu was judged to have handled Luke Shaw’s cross.
Anthony Martial, recalled at the expense of Alexis Sanchez, added the gloss midway through the second period, with a strike that deflected past Young Boys goalkeeper David von Ballmoos.
Until Pogba’s intervention, the hosts had enjoyed the better of the play as Jose Mourinho’s side struggled for fluency on the Swiss side’s artificial pitch.
Buoyed by the constant singing and drumming of their passionate supporters, Young Boys’ former Paris St-Germain forward Guillaume Hoarau headed wide early on.
And United goalkeeper David de Gea also impressively tipped efforts from Mohamed Ali Camara and Christian Fassnacht over the bar.
Yet the visitors, who had earlier clipped the post through Marcus Rashford, settled after Pogba’s contribution.
Juan Mata twice had chances to add to the score for last season’s Premier League runners-up, who enjoyed their first Champions League victory in Switzerland since Ruud van Nistelrooy and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored in a 3-1 win in Basel 16 years ago.
Pogba the leader
When Manchester United re-signed Paul Pogba for a then world-record transfer fee of £89m in 2016, it was to deliver match-winning contributions on the grandest stages.
But two-goal contributions of this nature, or performances where he has carried his team-mates with him, have been sporadic.
The French World-Cup winning midfielder scored twice against Turkish side Fenerbahce in his first season back at Old Trafford.
But he then had to wait almost 18 months before repeating that feat when delaying Manchester City’s Premier League title parade with a 3-2 win last April.
Adding consistency and honing his role in Mourinho’s side have so far proved challenging for the midfielder who spent four years at Juventus in the altogether different environment of Serie A.
However, there are signs that he is now starting to embrace greater responsibility.
Following on from strong showings against Burnley and Watford, this was a true captain’s performance.
It brought two goals and just as importantly a concentrated effort to retain possession, with 93% of his passes finding their intended target.
More to follow.