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Dublin: 18 °C Saturday 23 June, 2018
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Good evening, folks. Welcome to our coverage of what will surely be a straightforward assignment for Manchester United.

Just a draw tonight will secure them first place in Group A. They didn’t really want it to come to this but defeat to Basel last time certainly came with its consequences.

Elimination is really not on the cards! For that to happen, United will have to lose by seven goals!

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TEAM NEWS! 

The big story from Old Trafford tonight is that Luke Shaw makes his very first start of the campaign and it seems like he’ll play as a wing-back.

David de Gea gets a well-earned rest after those heroics against Arsenal so there’s a rare start for Sergio Romero.

Nemanja Matic picked up a muscle injury so he’s given the night off as Ander Herrera and Juan Mata slot into the side, alongside Marcus Rashford.

And before he begins his three-game domestic ban, Paul Pogba is included here.

Manchester United XI: Romero, Shaw, Blind, Smalling, Lindelof, Valencia, Herrera, Pogba, Mata, Rashford, Lukaku.

Subs: Pereira, Martial, Lingard, Young, Darmian, Tuanzebe, McTominay.

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Here’s how CSKA will line up. They’re level on points with Basel currently so they really are hoping Benfica do them a favour.

Otherwise, it looks like it’s the Europa League for them in 2018. Some key names here are the legendary goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev and the inconsistent Alan Dzagoev.

Konstantin Kuchaev scored against United in the 4-1 loss back in September.

CSKA XI: Akinfeev; Berezutski, Vasin, Iganshevich; Fernandes, Golovin, Kuchaev, Nababkin; Vitinho, Chalov, Dzagoev,

Subs: Pomazun, Makarov, Gordyushenko, Zhamaletdinov, Khosonov, Olanare

Kick-off is just about 10 minutes away and just in case you’re wondering, this is Luke Shaw’s first appearance since 24 October when he came off the bench in the 87th minute.  Before that, he played the second half of United’s 4-1 League Cup win over Burton.

So, this is another big test for him to try and win Mourinho over.

Here’s Mourinho explaining his selection for tonight:

“Matic is injured. Many others are injured. The ones available are either in the lineup or on the bench. Luke Shaw plays now and it’s a good opportunity for him but I don’t want to look at it as ‘it’s now or never’ or ‘you have to play amazingly well or you don’t get another chance’ … the group is good, people fight to have an opportunity. This is not an exam. They just have to play as a team and not focus on individuals.”

As for Marcos Rojo, he says: “Marcos is really tired. He was out for seven months. We thought about not playing him for two consecutive matches but we had to because we had no Jones or Bailly. Now he really needs the rest. It’s not even an option, it’s a decision to protect the player.”

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VERY CLOSE! Really bright start from United and Rashford sees his strike smack the upright after being played through by Lukaku. Really came from nothing.

9Mins

Good intent from United again as they force a corner. Pogba, Lukaku and Rashford are all involved before Valencia sweeps in the cross and it’s deflected out. Blind fires in a strike on goal and that’s deflected wide too.

Good pressure and they’re well on top here.

12Mins

CSKA come into this game in good form, winning four on the bounce in Russia. And they know that they’re probably going to have to win here to advance to the knockout stage. But they should already be behind here. Rashford’s strike wasn’t very clean and it bobbled towards the far corner before striking the post.

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CLOSE! That’s a lovely move from United and Valencia hangs the cross to the far post where Shaw arrives and trumps a volley into the ground but Akinfeev gets down and parries. On the rebound, Lukaku can’t quite get his body right and makes a bit of a mess of it. The goalkeeper does enough to put him off and CSKA survive.

25Mins

By the way, Luke Shaw has never scored a senior goal for either Southampton or Manchester United. He made his competitive debut in January 2012.

28Mins

And keeping the same train of thought, Lukaku has scored once in his last 12 appearance for United: the last goal in the 4-1 win over Newcastle on 18 November.

Before that, it was against Crystal Palace on 30 September.

34Mins

Chance for Lukaku as Pogba pings a brilliant pass into his path but the striker seems to caught on his heels a bit and the ball bounces away from goal, making the angle harder. He gets to it and whips in a low cross but there’s no red shirt arriving.

39Mins

Penalty claim from CSKA after Mata’s poor pass immediately puts United in danger in their own area. Shaw does seem to pull down Chalov but there’s not much in it. The ball ends up at the feet of Vitinho but his attempt is wild and United get away with it.

41Mins

They look really good on the counter-attack, United, but there’s just a bit of ruthlessness missing here tonight. Rashford had a chance to pick out Herrera’s far-post run but didn’t get his head up and despite breaking with five red shirts, there’s no chance created at the end of it.

46Mins

Shaw has been impressive in the first half but some people going a bit overboard with their praise. He’s fighting for his place in this squad and this is his first start of the season. He should be fresh and positive and hungry.

45Mins

Well, that’s a pretty bizarre goal but CSKA won’t care and United are behind here, right on the stroke of half-time.

They’re slack on the left side and Mario Fernandes is allowed cut the ball back. Vitinho has the effort on goal but it hits Dzagoev – who is certainly offside – and deflects past Romero and into the net.

45Mins

Well, this hasn’t gone according to plan for the home side.

They’ve looked likely to score a couple of times but they’ve lacked the finesse in front of goal.

Rashford didn’t hit a shot cleanly when straight through on goal and saw the effort come off the far post while Shaw saw a decent volley saved by Akinfeev and the rebound was squandered by Lukaku.

 

They’ve looked dangerous on the counter but nothing to show for it.

45Mins

The goal, after looking at it a few times, is definitely offside. The conversation seems to be if Daley Blind is actually playing on Dzagoev after sliding in to try and block the initial cross. But Blind was technically off the pitch when Vitinho took the shot so he’s not ‘in play’ as the ball deflects off Dzagoev’s back and into the net.

45Mins

So, a definite answer here on whether the goal should’ve stood.

After a quick look at the laws of the game, Blind is still considered to be active because he hasn’t asked to leave the field of play. So even though he had slid off the field, he’s still considered to be ‘in play’. There was a similar incident at Euro 2008 between Netherlands and Italy, if I remember correctly.

So, a really great call by the officials. Dzagoev wasn’t offside.

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CLOSE! Rashford is in again and sends a great strike towards goal but Akinfeev does well once more and pushes it to safety.

56Mins

The plot thickens…

Screen Shot 2017-12-05 at 15.56.38

Uefa are now crediting Vitinho with the CSKA goal, probably because they feel the shot was on target and, in keeping with regular rules regarding deflections/own goals, the person taking the shot will get the goal once it was heading in.

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BOOKING! Berezeutski picks up a yellow card as he desperately brings down Pogba on the edge of the area after the Frenchman plays a lovely one-two with Lukaku and looked to break into the area. Rashford’s subsequent effort is blocked by the wall and goes out for a corner.

64Mins

CSKA are dropping deeper and deeper and there’s still half an hour left. A little ominous but United have been pretty wasteful in front of goal so far. Expect plenty of more chances falling to the hosts.

70Mins

Well, just after I was talking about how wasteful they’ve been in front of goal, United score twice in two minutes.

Lukaku’s drought is over. He stretched to finish Pogba’s superb cross to the net, showing great physicality in the process.

Then, he flicked on for Rashford, who’s initially blocked off. But Mata’s perfect pass plays him in and he sends a low strike to the far corner – learning from that miss in the first half.

2-1 and everything has changed.

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SUBSTITUTIONS: McTominay (in) – Herrera (out) & Gordyushenko (in) – Chalov (out)

CSKA made their change just before Rashford put United in front. And it’s slipping away from them here now.

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SUBSTITUTIONS: Tuanzebe (in) – Valencia (out) & Martial (in) – Lukaku (out)

Martial is in great form and has a knack of coming off the bench to score. It’s also his 22nd birthday so he’s in the mood to get the ultimate gift here.

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BOOKING! McTominay brings down Golovin with a pretty rash challenge and picks up a yellow.

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CLOSE! A rare but wonderful move from CSKA and Dzagoev is slipped in and looks to sweep it home from close-range with his left foot. But Romero is out and off his line and sticks out his right leg to make an impressive block.

93Mins

With the rain coming down now, some CSKA fans have taken their shirts off. Still, I’m sure Manchester in December is a tad milder than Moscow, in fairness.

Five wins from six games and United take Group A. In the end, it all came down to two dazzling second-half minutes and, as much as the finishes from Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford were impressive, the assists from Paul Pogba and Juan Mata were pretty delicious.

If they lacked ruthlessness in the first half, they more than made up for it by rapidly scoring twice and Mourinho was also able to rest some players and keep them fresh for the Manchester derby at the weekend while also getting an impressive shift from Luke Shaw on his first start of the season.

Added to the mix, those well-documented droughts are now over for both Lukaku and Rashford and that’s a weight off their shoulders.

It’s the first time they’ve reached the knockout stages of the Champions League since 2014.

Thanks for staying with us for our coverage tonight. Plenty more reaction on the site tonight.

About the author:

Eoin O'Callaghan

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