Mourinho tips hat to Man United substitutes

Manchester United substitutes Marouane Fellaini (left) and Jesse Lingard celebrate after the Belgian gave the hosts a 2-0 lead over Leicester City in the Premier League. Lingard set Fellaini up, allowing United to maintain their perfect start.
Manchester United substitutes Marouane Fellaini (left) and Jesse Lingard celebrate after the Belgian gave the hosts a 2-0 lead over Leicester City in the Premier League. Lingard set Fellaini up, allowing United to maintain their perfect start.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Manager refuses to take credit for victory over Foxes after his three changes all make impact on game

LONDON • Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho saw all three of his substitutes contribute to the goals that earned a 2-0 win over Leicester City on Saturday but was quick to dismiss praise of his tactical move.

Marcus Rashford scored the 70th-minute opener three minutes after coming on and Jesse Lingard assisted Marouane Fellaini in the 82nd minute to complete United's third straight win of the Premier League season.

"Very good players," Mourinho said, when it was suggested that he made intelligent substitutions.

"This is about the quality of the players because they are good. It doesn't matter if they come from the bench because the group is solid. I am really happy. Not for me, I am happy for them, for Marouane, for Jesse, for Marcus.

"If I don't have them on the bench I can't make successful changes. The players work hard and those who are not playing and are on the bench, or in the stands, are working hard too and waiting for their chance."

The Portuguese added that his team's excellent start to the season - with 10 goals scored and three clean sheets - was a result of "excellent preparations in pre-season in a beautiful atmosphere in Los Angeles".

"We played against good teams. The pre-season was very complete and then we started the Premier League and we are playing well," he said.

United dominated for long periods at Old Trafford on Saturday, but were in danger of losing their 100 per cent start to the Premier League season after Romelu Lukaku's penalty was saved by Kasper Schmeichel.

But the hosts kept pressing and finally scored their two goals, leaving the manager full of admiration for the way they refused to be discouraged by well-drilled Leicester.

"I think we played very well. The blue wall was very well organised and I always give credit for that. They defended very well," Mourinho said.

"We missed a penalty but after that I saw the team playing with confidence. We deserved it.

"The difference (from last season) is in the quality of our football. The team are playing confident, great football."

Leicester manager Craig Shakespeare felt his players performed well in frustrating United for large parts of the game.

But he was disappointed that his players once again fell behind from a set piece, having conceded from a corner in their 4-3 Premier League opening-day defeat at Arsenal .

At Old Trafford, it was a Henrikh Mkhitaryan corner that was diverted in by Rashford, and Shakespeare warned the Foxes that it must not become a habit.

He said: "It's a set play. We need to be mindful that it doesn't become an Achilles' heel for us.

"We spoke about it after the Arsenal game and we worked on it, but we have to put it into action as well.

"We knew we would have to frustrate them coming here. For large parts of the game, I thought we did that and did it really well.

"We knew they would have their moment. And the big moments, they managed to capitalise on."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 28, 2017, with the headline 'Mourinho tips hat to Man United substitutes'. Print Edition | Subscribe