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Fellaini, Young and Lindelof called in for praise by Man United's Mourinho

MANCHESTER -- Jose Mourinho paid tribute to three unlikely heroes as Manchester United began their Champions League campaign with a 3-0 win over Basel at Old Trafford.

The United manager picked new £31 million defender Victor Lindelof in his starting XI for the first time this season while Ashley Young made his comeback after spending more than four months on the sidelines with a knee injury.

Marouane Fellaini was also needed off the bench in the first half as a replacement for Paul Pogba, who suffered a hamstring injury and later left the stadium on crutches.

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Lindelof was part of a United defence that kept a fourth clean sheet in five games this season while Young and Fellaini also impressed.

Young crossed for Fellaini to score United's first before the Belgium international set up Marcus Rashford for the third goal. Romelu Lukaku got the second with his first goal in the Champions League group stages.

Mourinho told a news conference: "Young was impressive but not a surprise. I left Valencia on the bench because I know what he can do, it's no different to when I played him in so many positions last season.

"He is always positive in his answer. He had a big injury last year, surgery and recovery was really intensive and his approach has been the same in training."

Marouane Fellaini celebrates with teammates after firing Man United in front of Basel.

With Pogba an injury doubt, Fellaini could now start against his former club Everton when they visit Old Trafford on Sunday.

Mourinho added: "To remember a Fellaini bad performance I have to go back to last season, in the beginning, and it wasn't just a bad one, it was just a naive mistake in the last minute at Goodison Park.

"Whether he starts or on the bench he's a very important player for us."

Lindelof, however, is likely to return to the bench at the weekend with Phil Jones and Eric Bailly, both suspended against Basel, ready to return.

The Sweden international is yet to play in the Premier League, but looked comfortable next to Chris Smalling against the Swiss champions.

Mourinho said: "If Lindelof has to play in the Premier League I have no problem with that. Can he make a mistake that comes with adapting to the nature of the Premier League? I think he can.

"But the nature of the Premier League is also changing and we need defenders who can play, who can come into the midfield bringing the ball because it's becoming really defensive and we're going to face many teams with five in the back and two or three in front.

"Victor of all our defenders is probably the one to bring more quality when he attacks the midfield."

Rob is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @RobDawsonESPN.


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