Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has hailed the persistence of his players as they triumphed 2-0 against Derby County on Friday night.
The Reds hit the post on multiple occasions in a frustrating first 80 minutes before Jesse Lingard scored his 11th goal of the season in stunning fashion, a screamer of a half-volley to beat Scott Carson.
Mourinho admitted it seemed as if Man United were going to be forced to a replay in the Third Round of the FA Cup as Derby defended resolutely, as well as having the post on their side.
“I was feeling that we were close to scoring and we never stopped trying,” Mourinho told BBC Sport.
“But when you get past 80 minutes and the goal hasn’t come, you fear the second match. But the team kept trying so I knew the goal could arrive.”
Mourinho praised Derby’s defensive performance, picking out goalkeeper Scott Carson in particular after two fantastic saves to deny Paul Pogba and Juan Mata, but also lamented the role of the post as United, especially Marcus Rashford, couldn’t beat it.
“Derby defended very well. They changed players as the Championship is important to them. Scott Carson played well and the post played well for them,” he joked. “They were close to a replay – but they didn’t need it.
“The Championship is coming in a direction where they are Premier League level, they just play in another competition.”
A replay would have been a bitter blow for United after creating a number of chances and playing well. They eventually got a deserved win due to the individual brilliance of Jesse Lingard and can now look forward to a lighter fixture schedule.