Jose Mourinho has singled out praise for Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford following Manchester United’s 2-1 win over CSKA Moscow in the Champions League.
The Belgian, who had only managed one goal in 11 games, hassled CSKA’s defence all evening and duly received his reward with a well-taken equaliser after 63 minutes.
And Rashford, having bombarded the visitors with his raw pace all evening, added a winner two minutes later – his first in nine games – to ensure Man United topped Group A with 15 points (the highest total they have managed since winning the competition in 2008).
Speaking after the game, Mourinho was quick to heap praise on the duo for what was a scintillating attacking display.
“We confirmed our progression but in the way we wanted to,” he said. “We played well and got the result. At half-time we were playing well and I was not unhappy. The boys played professionally.”
“If I could choose goalscorers, I would always choose the strikers. Their confidence depends on that sometimes. Romelu Lukaku’s work for the team every match is crazy. The goal was important for Marcus Rashford too.”
Nobody deserved a goal more than Lukaku. The 24-year-old may have encountered a dry patch in recent times but his contribution to United’s build-up play has matured with every passing week.
United now have somebody capable of both stretching back fours with selfless runs and producing clever flick ons to set other players free – the latter serving as an avenue for their second goal against the Russian side – and their entire attacking approach feels more fluid as a result.
And we ought to remember that this is a man still firmly in the nascent stages of his Old Trafford career; his understanding of those around him will continue to develop.
As for Rashford, this was a perfect statement to Mourinho, who had started Anthony Martial ahead of him for the previous five games. The latter’s rise to prominence earlier in the campaign was largely fuelled by being forced to watch his teammate from the sidelines and supporters, with the Frenchman currently in his finest spell of form since arriving at Old Trafford, will be pleased to see the reverse occurring,