Jose Mourinho has astonishgly revealed he was scared Romelu Lukaku would miss Manchester United’s penalty against Benfica.
Daley Blind stepped up to convert the spot-kick to put the Red Devils 2-0 up against their Portuguese opponents, but many were left questioning why Lukaku wasn’t on penalty duty.
But in his post-match press conference, Mourinho revealed he felt there would be too much pressure on the Belgian to seal the victory.
Mourinho said: “He missed the last one and I want him to take a penalty when there is no pressure, there is no responsibility and there is no need of scoring the goal.
“We are playing the Champions League. We need points.”
Lukaku missed his previous spot-kick for United in a 2-0 victory over Leicester in August this year.
The 24-year-old hasn’t got a brilliant record from the spot in his career, scoring 10 and missing five since he turned pro.
But Mourinho’s comments may cause some concern amongst United fans, with the boss clearly not putting too much trust in his number 9.
Mourinho added: “We are not, even now, with 12 points, qualified.
“It’s an important moment [the penalty incident] with 10-12 minutes to go, at 1-0 up. I want a player free of the pressure of missing the last one.
“Lukaku missed a penalty on August 26 with the game goalless at home to Leicester.
“So, I am really happy with his personality and I am really happy that he wants to take the responsibility. But I am here sometimes to protect the players and to protect the team.
“In this moment, I protect him. maybe Blind misses. But I need to protect him because he missed the last one.
“I think I protected him because if he misses the penalty, the team would be in danger of a 1-0 result, it would have been a second consecutive miss on him.
“He will take a penalty when the game is over. And the game is not over.”
Lukaku has now failed to score in his last six games for United, going seven hours and 57 minutes without a goal.
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