Paul Pogba

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Paul Pogba’s recovery from injury longer than expected

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It seems like Manchester United will be without Paul Pogba longer than initially expected.

[ MORE: Can United cope without Pogba? ]

Pogba, 24, went off injured less than 20 minutes into United’s 3-0 UEFA Champions League win against Basel at Old Trafford on Tuesday as the French midfielder suffered a hamstring injury.

Speaking after the game Jose Mourinho thought Pogba could be out for a few weeks: “In my experience, muscular injury stops you from playing for a few weeks, I think.”

But multiple reports suggest the central midfielder, who has been a star for United in the opening weeks of the season, could be out until the end of October.

Such has been Pogba’s influence in the early weeks of the season he was handed the captains armband by Mourinho for United’s return to the Champions League in midweek but he hobbled off early on with an untimely injury.

He could now miss the Premier League games against Everton, Southampton, Crystal Palace and Liverpool, plus a key Champions League group stage match against CSKA Moscow as well as a League Cup clash with Burton Albion. France will also be without Pogba for their key World Cup qualifiers against Bulgaria and Belarus which they need to win to guarantee qualification to Russia 2018.

Luckily Mourinho has other options in central midfield with Nemanja Matic, Michael Carrick, Maroune Fellaini (who came on for Pogba on Tuesday and put in a Man of the Match display) and Ander Herrera all around to soften the blow.

Still, Pogba has been influential early on this season and an extended period on the sidelines is not what Mourinho or United needed after a strong start to the campaign.

How will Man United deal with Paul Pogba’s injury?

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12 months ago Manchester United would have coped just fine when losing Paul Pogba.

Now, not so much.

[ MORE: 3 key battles in Spurs vs. Dortmund ]

Pogba, 24, went off injured just 19 minutes into United’s 3-0 UEFA Champions League win over FC Basel on Tuesday night at Old Trafford and the Frenchman is expected to be out for at least a few weeks with a hamstring injury.

Such has been Pogba’s importance to United so far this season, Jose Mourinho handed him the captains armband for their return to the Champions League. On the pitch Pogba has provided driving runs from midfield, scoring two goals and adding two assists as his offensive output has been cranked up several notches compared to last season.

Who will replace him in United’s lineup on Sunday against Everton (Watch live, 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com)?

Marouane Fellaini is the main contender to slot right in for Pogba after his Man of the Match display against Basel in midweek where he scored and set up the third with a commanding display in central midfield. In many ways the role Pogba has been playing is perfect for Fellaini.

The Belgian had been restricted to a deeper central midfield role under David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal and even Mourinho last season, but if the Portuguese coach wants to lessen the impact of Pogba’s loss, Fellaini should slot in to start against his former club on Sunday. Mourinho continues to call Fellaini one of his “most important” players and the aggressive midfielder seems to have fed off that confidence given to him by his boss.

However, Mourinho does have options with both Ander Herrera and Michael Carrick waiting in the wings to slot in alongside Nemanja Matic against Everton.

Both would be a safer, more defensive option than Fellaini and given the Belgian midfielder facing his former club, tempers could flare in midfield just like they did last season at Goodison Park when he gave away a penalty kick moments after coming on as a substitute.

Fellaini will probably start but with Everton set to pack the midfield with playmakers like Wayne Rooney, Gylfi Sigurdsson and maybe Davy Klaassen, having an extra defensive midfielder may be the smarter move for Mourinho.

With games against Burton Albion in the League Cup, a Premier League clash at Southampton and then a trip to CSKA Moscow in the UCL, Fellaini is likely to have a bigger impact against those teams. Yet with Mourinho’s love for the Belgian midfielder very well, don’t be surprised to see Carrick and Herrera both on the bench this Sunday at Old Trafford.

Fellaini leads Manchester United win (video)

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With Paul Pogba injured, substitute Marouane Fellaini broke the Basel wall as Manchester United beat visiting Basel 3-0 in both teams UEFA Champions League group stage openers at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

Fellaini assisted a Marcus Rashford goal and Romelu Lukaku also scored for United, who next takes to the road for a Sept. 27 match with CSKA Moscow. Basel will host Benfica on the same Wednesday.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]   

Henrik Mkhitaryan tapped a side-footed shot off the near post from within eight yards, then saw his rebound shot collected by Basel backstop Tomas Vaclik.

But United found its breakthrough before halftime when Ashley Young cut hard to win a yard of space on the right flank for a cross that Fellaini headed hard and home. 1-0.

Anthony Martial cut in from the left in the 52nd minute to threaten goal, but his low bounding shot was collected before it could reach the far pos

United regained possession quickly, and Lukaku made it 2-0 off a Daley Blind cross. It wasn’t much different from the opener, as dominant United cushioned its lead.

Mohamed Elyounoussi nearly won a penalty from Victor Lindelof but instead earned a dangerous shot that David De Gea leapt to push over the bar as Basel bid to pick up its first goal.

Fellaini’s cut back pass through the 18 went through Mkhitaryan’s legs and onto a plate for Rashford to blast past Vaclik.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Pogba limps off; Won’t play versus Everton

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Paul Pogba had to wait more than a year for his first UEFA Champions League match at Old Trafford, and it lasted all of 18 minutes.

The French midfielder pulled up with a leg injury 15 minutes into Manchester United’s group stage opener against Basel, and could not continue with a presumed hamstring ailment.

[ MORE: Palace confirms Hodgson hire ]

The move’s short-term prognosis was good, with replacement Marouane Fellaini heading home the match’s first goal, but Pogba missed multiple matches with a hamstring injury late last season.

Next up for United is Wayne Rooney‘s return in a visit from Everton on Sunday, then a midweek League Cup visit from Burton Albion. Trips to Southampton and CSKA Moscow follow.

And he’ll certainly miss the Toffees.

UCL AT HALF: Chelsea, Man Utd lead; Neymar nets for PSG (video)

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Two Premier League sides are home as the group stage of the UEFA Champions League begins its multi-month run on Tuesday.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Chelsea 2-0 Qarabag

It did not take long for the Blues to take an expected lead on their visitors from Azerbaijan, with Willian playing a corner kick that Pedro blasted into the roof of the goal.

Then Davide Zappacosta, making his first Chelsea start, dribbled down the right flank before scoring a sensational curling effort from outside the far right corner of the 18.

Olympiacos 0-3 Sporting Lisbon

Seydou Doumbia put the Portuguese visitors ahead in the second minute. Cape Verde attacker Gelson Martins made it 2-0 just over 10 minutes later, and Bruno Fernandes has also scored for Sporting.

Manchester United 1-0 Basel

Paul Pogba pulled up with a leg injury and had to leave the rainy contest before the 20 minute mark. Marouane Fellaini replaced the Frenchman, and connected with the cross of fellow longtime Premier League veteran Ashley Young to make it 1-0 in the 35th minute.

Barcelona 1-0 Juventus

A solid save from Gianluigi Buffon on Luis Suarez kept the hosts off the scoreboard, but Lionel Messi was sure to have Barca in front when the halftime whistle blew at the Camp Nou.

[ MORE: Palace confirms Hodgson hire ]

Bayern Munich 1-0 Anderlecht

As if Bayern needed help from its Belgian visitors, a 11th minute red card to Anderlecht was met by a 12th minute penalty kick goal from Robert Lewandowski.

Celtic 0-3 Paris Saint-Germain

Neymar scored, and set up Kylian Mbappe for another, and Edinson Cavani won and converted a penalty as each member of PSG’s trident (KEN?) have scored at Celtic Park.

Neymar struck first to kick off his UCL career at PSG in style.

Elsewhere

Roma 0-0 Atletico Madrid
Benfica 0-0 CSKA Moscow