BLEARY-EYED Manchester United returned from Moscow at 4am this morning – and were still greeted by fans at the airport.
Jose Mourinho, carrying his favourite red travel pillow, saw his squad pick up another impressive victory against CSKA Moscow, their fifth in a row and eighth in the last nine.
Anthony Martial, Romelu Lukaku and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were all on target in a 4-1 win for the Premier League’s second-placed side.
But with the visit of Crystal Palace on Saturday, and rivals Manchester City and Chelsea showing strong early form, the Special One knows there is no time to lose.
Speaking ahead of the match he’d mentioned his team’s fixture pile-up.
He said: “We have a game on Saturday. Liverpool are luckier than us, they play Tuesday and Sunday, we have to play on Wednesday and on Saturday at 3pm.”
Mourinho’s side got the first available flight out of Moscow and after a four-hour return journey, landed at 4am at Manchester Airport.
A tired-looking Lukaku, who has scored in every game but one since joining United, even stopped to pose with a fan.
?Latest Europa League odds?
She did not look like she was heading for Russia however – dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, she was surely heading for sunnier climes.
Mourinho is clearly delighted with the £90million Lukaku, who scored his ninth and tenth goals for the club, but was moved to praise the rest of the squad.
He said after the win: “It is a great achievement but it is only possible with a good team.
“Without a good team it is not possible and the team is playing well. They are amazing numbers for Romelu.
“He is humble and wants to learn and improve all the time.
“I think ambition is there and I trust he can keep performing for us.”
Martial was especially impressive, adding two assists to the penalty he scored.
Manchester United legend Roy Keane, winner of seven Premier League titles and the Champions League with the club, has been a harsh critic in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson years.
But the Irishman believes the side are finally back where they should be.
He said: “United are back. They look like they will compete to win the big trophies.
“Over the last few years, you are thinking they might win a League Cup and the lesser trophies.
“But they are back competing and you expect them to be in the latter stages of the Champions League and winning the Premier League.”