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What We Learned: As easy as they come for Mourinho’s men

On a night where the highlight was the terribly late sending off of the Benfica captain, there really was only one negative for Manchester United as they eased to a rather tepid victory in Lisbon. The last 180 minutes of Mourinho football have been as entertaining as counting to a billion, but his side remains unbeaten and well on track for progression into the next stage of the competition. Here is what we learned (honestly) this evening against Benfica.

Points mean prizes

And this is the main thing we should take away from this evening. The goal was genuinely horrendous for all involved, and it was the only creative spark for the entire 90 minutes, but it was all United needed to take the maximum and keep the momentum going in the competition. It was poor, boring, but three points.

Mkhitaryan persistence not paying off

I’m really very unsure how Henrikh Mkhitaryan is continuing to get first team football for Manchester United this season. He’s keeping one of Marcus Rashford or Anthony Martial out of the squad every week and being about as much use as playing no one in there. As the man supposedly responsible for the flair and attacking spark, Mkhitaryan has gone from five assists in as many games to looking like he’ll never assist again. Tonight was another in a growing list of games that have passed him by, and surely when everyone is fit his place is the first to be redistributed.

Brilliant Rashford halted and improved Lindelof 

Thank you England football team, and thank you FIFA for your insistence on having international football as a thing. The knock Marcus Rashford picked up playing in the completely pointless game away in Lithuania (Gareth Southgate, take a bow) reared its head again after a thoroughly impressive performance topped with a goal full of cunning. Victor Lindelof played much better this evening and seemed to be the player Mourinho thought he’d signed. His passing ability isn’t too shabby either.

Conclusion

Writing this was actually much more exciting than having to watch the thing because it was such a struggle to think of ideas! A moment of sympathy should be given to the poor Benfica goalkeeper Mile Svilar who’s naivety cost his side dearly. Herrera and Matic looked assured in the middle, but the linkup play was constantly a yard off what it needed to be, especially in the first half where a string of passes were hard to come by.

Lukaku and Rashford seem to have a bit of an understanding forming which is an encouraging side as games begin to come thick and fast and goals take on a lot of importance. Overall it was painfully boring to watch and a real test of endurance, but when reflecting back it’s all relative. Three points gained, unbeaten still and looking excellent for the next round. Huddersfield next up, let’s hope it’s not a painful 270 minutes in a row. Please Mourinho, please.

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