Jose Mourinho has pointed out that Manchester United planned to target Benfica goalkeeper Mile Svilar following his side’s 1-0 win in Lisbon.
The 18-year-old was handed just his second start for Benfica at the Estadio da Luz, making him the third keeper to feature for Benfica already this season.
And it was his mistake that tilted the game in Man United’s favour: the teenager woefully misjudged the flight of Marcus Rashford‘s free-kick and carried the ball over the line as he tracked back to make the catch.
Speaking after the game, Mourinho acknowledged that targeting the youngster was an important aspect of United’s preparation for the clash.
“Before the game I knew how good the keeper he was and I told the players what he was like but we had the strategies in place to make him uncomfortable and take the space from him,” he said.
“We knew he risks a lot and we were lucky with the Rashford goal.”
No manager wants his goalkeeper to be the most talked about aspect of his side’s performance, but such was the case for poor Rui Vitoria, who looked to be on the verge of suffering an aneurism at times on the touchline.
Benfica worked hard but you could see the lack of confidence weighing them down, while Svilar never escaped the audience’s eye for too long. He raced out of his box whenever presented with half a chance and looked perhaps understandably jittery at corners as United put players on the goal-line and Rashford launched a few stinging crosses in his direction.
And, eventually, the constant pressure paid dividends, sending United to within one win of topping Group A.