Jose Mourinho took a swipe at those who question his tactics after Manchester United put one foot into the knockout stages of the Champions League with a 1-0 victory at Benfica.

The United manager was criticised by Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, among others, for a defensive mindset following a goalless draw between the fierce Premier League rivals at Anfield at the weekend.

But Mourinho, who was left sweating over a knee injury to Marcus Rashford, believes focusing on the backline is crucial after watching his side move onto nine points after three Group A games in Europe's elite club competition.

He said: "We were the team that was positive and we were always in control. I never felt that we could concede a goal, we were very solid defensively - sometimes I feel that to be good defensively is a crime but it is not a crime.

"To be good defensively is one step to get results. We knew the Benfica pressure could not stay for 90 minutes.

"The amazing defensive work Liverpool did against us, Benfica could not do that for the whole game. Without any pressure, we knew the goal would arrive.

"We have nine points, we are basically one point from qualifying and one victory away from winning the group. A good game, solid."


Rashford scored the only goal in the 65th minute after catching out Benfica's 18-year-old goalkeeper Mile Svilar, who carried the ball over the line having been deceived by the England international's long-range free-kick.

Rashford was substituted soon after and Mourinho added: "I thought it was cramps, I thought it was a bit of fatigue, but no it was something he felt in his knee. I hope nothing too bad."

Svilar replaced Real Madrid great Iker Casillas as the youngest goalkeeper to start a Champions League match.

Mourinho added: "I knew how good the goalkeeper was, I told the players that. We had a little bit of a strategy, especially on set-pieces to make him uncomfortable.

"He risks a lot, but only top keepers do that. He was unlucky for the goal."

Meanwhile midfielder Nemanja Matic was happy to make a winning return to a club where he spent just over two seasons as a player.

It was a busy evening for Matic in midfield but like Mourinho, the result was all that mattered for him.

Speaking to RTÉ Sport, he said: "We are very happy because of these three points in a very difficult place to play against very good opponents.

"I’m happy for the team, I’m happy that we played well tonight, that we didn’t concede a goal again, so it’s very important for us.

"We had some difficulties, but it’s normal, this is a very hard place to play. I know because I played here for two-and-a-half years and I know that in this stadium it’s very hard to win."