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How odd

Why did Jose Mourinho stop Romelu Lukaku taking a penalty in the Champions League?

Daley Blind was handed spot-kick duty after the Belgian was stopped from attempting the shot

Manchester United won their fourth Champions League game in a row this evening, beating Benfica 2-0 at Old Trafford.

Pretty straight forward stuff for Jose Mourinho’s side then, right?

Well, sorta.

The last 16 beckons

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The last 16 beckons

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Having seen Anthony Martial’s penalty in the first-half saved, the Red Devils broke the deadlock thanks to Nemanja Matic’s long-shot ricocheting off the post and into the back of the net off of the back of the unfortunate Benfica ‘keeper Mile Svilar.

Advantage, yes, but it was an uneasy lead for United, who were grateful to be given a second penalty on the 78th minute when birthday boy Marcus Rashford was fouled in the box.

Blind took United’s second penalty after some initial confusion

AP:Associated Press
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Blind took United’s second penalty after some initial confusion

Martial – who was seemingly chief spot-kick taker this evening – had not only missed his previous effort, but wasn’t even on the pitch by that point, so he couldn’t take it.

So next on the penalty taking list is Romelu Lukaku, surely?

Seemingly not…


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As the big Belgian picked up the ball to take the pen, Mourinho seemingly told Ander Herrera to stop him.

It then appeared that Mourinho ‘gestured’ to Lukaku, before Daley Blind (of all people) finally placed the ball and belted the penalty home.

Odd moment, indeed.

So, what was that all about?

Mourinho said in his post-match interview: “The players were happy to take the responsibility, Lukaku and Herrera – but my choice was Daley Blind.”

Alright, fair enough.

Mourinho was keen to see Blind take the pen ahead of Lukaku

Getty Images - Getty
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Mourinho was keen to see Blind take the pen ahead of Lukaku

But the cynical side of us thinks that maybe Mourinho was considering Lukaku’s poor form in front of goal at the moment.

The big number 9, the man Mourinho hung his hat on when he paid Everton £75m for him in the summer, has stopped scoring.

In fact, it’s been SIX games since the ball last rippled the net for him, when he scored the final goal in the 4-0 destruction of Crystal Palace, way back on September 30.

Its not been going well for Lukaku lately

AFP or licensors
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Its not been going well for Lukaku lately

So, was this Mourinho protecting the striker’s dented morale, in case he missed?

Or simply pass-the-parcel?

Who knows, really.