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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
So, was this Mourinho protecting the striker’s dented morale, in case he missed?
Or simply pass-the-parcel?
Who knows, really.