Jose Mourinho reserved special praise for Ashley Young and Marouane Fellaini after Manchester United's 3-0 win over Basel in their first Champions League group stage game on Tuesday (12 September).
The 32-year-old winger, who was making his first appearance since May, started at right-back in place of regular starter Antonio Valencia, who was rested owing to his exhaustive schedule for club and country recently.
Young was making a comeback from a severe groin injury and impressed at full-back despite being a predominantly attack minded player. He has been used in the defensive position previously and Mourinho was impressed with his work rate and believes he can provide the same amount of quality as Valencia.
"He did well. It's quite trendy now, teams playing with five defenders, sometimes we like to say three, but I only see them with five. He gave us what Antonio would give us, I think they are both very good. But Antonio, after playing in Brazil and Ecuador and then Stoke, I felt that Ashley could do the job perfectly and he did it," Mourinho said after the win, as quoted on United's official site.
Fellaini, on the other hand, started from the bench with Mourinho admitting that he had no intention of playing him as he was just returning from injury. But the Portuguese manager was forced to put him on after just 19 minutes as Paul Pogba left the field with a suspected hamstring injury.
The Belgian went on to put in a man of the match performance to help United to all three points in their opening group game against the Swiss Super League champions. Apart from an assured performance in midfield, he also opened the scoring 15 minutes after his introduction before Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford wrapped up the win in the second-half.
"[He showed it] again, and the supporters understand that. I'm really pleased for him because, since I arrived, he's trying to give absolutely everything to me, to the team and to the club. I couldn't be more pleased with him," the Portuguese coach said about Fellaini, who has not been a fan favourite during his time at the club.
"I was trying not to play him today because he comes back from an injury, but with the Pogba injury I had no option. I felt it was also good for the profile of the game against a team that was defending with five at the back and with a big accumulation of players in the box. I felt his strength in the air could be an option for us, so I'm pleased for him."