Jose Mourinho has expressed his delight following Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s stunning display during Manchester United’s 2-0 win over Zorya Luhansk in the Europa League on Thursday night.
The Armenian netted his first goal for the club after 48 minutes, rounding off a superb defence-splitting run with a cool finish to put the visitors.
His overall performance – even on a bobbly, partially frozen and unreliable pitch – was once again remarkably tidy, hallmarked by immense composure going forward.
Mourinho, speaking after the game, was full of praise for the 27-year-old.
“It was a strong mentality,” he said.
“He was determined to fight against his difficult adaptation. He worked hard physically and tactically – the talent was there, we knew that when we bought him.
“Now he’s playing good – in the Premier League, Europa League and EFL Cup, and now the goal means a little more happiness for him, so I’m very pleased.”
Many players, especially in today’s footballing climate, where players at big clubs subside into a sense of entitlement, would have reacted poorly if they – like Mkhitaryan – were forced to spend such a long spell on the sidelines.
The Armenian, on the other hand, is different. Initially frozen out by Mourinho, he worked even harder in training, quietly but doggedly going about his business. And then, upon finally receiving a chance to impress, he rose to the occasion, cementing his place in the starting XI.