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'In that moment, I protect him': Jose Mourinho explains Lukaku penalty snub

The Belgian striker went to take a spot-check but his manager instructed Daley Blind to step up instead.

Image: Martin Rickett

MANCHESTER UNITED SEALED their 2-0 victory over Benfica tonight with a late penalty.

Unexpectedly, it was Daley Blind who stepped up and rifled the ball to the net after Anthony Martial – the designated penalty taker for the game – had already been substituted.

But, when Marcus Rashford had been fouled in the area, it was Romelu Lukaku who grabbed the ball and seemed set to take the kick.

However, Jose Mourinho prevented the Belgian striker from doing so and instructed Blind to do the honours.

Lukaku had been on a run of five games without a goal, hence his obvious desire to take the penalty.

But, after the game, Mourinho explained that his decision was made to protect a player he’s been heavily supportive of in recent weeks.

“I’m the manager and I make the decisions,” he said.

“He (Lukaku) missed the last one (he took) and I want him to take a penalty when there’s no pressure, when there’s no responsibility and there’s no need of scoring the goal.

“We are playing Champions League, we need points, even now – with 12 points – we’re not even qualified. It’s an important moment in the game – 10 or 12 minutes to go, 1-nil, I want a player free of the pressure of missing the last one. So I’m really happy with his personality. I’m really happy that he wants to take the responsibility. But I’m here sometimes to protect the players and support the team. In that moment I protect him. Maybe Blind misses. But I need to protect him.”

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As it happened: Manchester United v Benfica, Uefa Champions League

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Eoin O'Callaghan

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