Henrikh Mkhitaryan earned the praise of a sometime critical Jose Mourinho after he helped Manchester United through to the knockout stages of the Europa League.
Mkhitaryan scored one and Zlatan Ibrahimovic grabbed late second as the Red Devils overcame the Ukrainians Zorya Luhansk 2-0 in Odessa on Thursday night.
Now Mourinho must once again look at his team selection and tactics prepare his side for the visit of Tottenham in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Sunday following their disappointing 1-1 top flight draw with Everton last week.
United qualified in second behind Fenerbahce after the Turkish side won 1-0 at Feyenoord and Mourinho picked out Armenian attacker Mkhitaryan for his display which was full of mental toughness, coupled with ability and dedication.
”It was a strong mentality. He was determined to fight against his difficult adaptation.”
“He worked hard physically and tactically. The talent was there, we knew that when we bought him. Now he’s playing good, in the Premier League, Europa League and EFL Cup, and now the goal means a little more happiness for him, so I’m very pleased.”
And delighted team-mate Ibrahimovic said he shared his coach’s enthusiasm for the performance and wonderful goal from Mkhitaryan.
“The first goal was magnificent. Henrikh had speed and control all the way, and the timing to put it through the defender’s legs. It was beautiful! He killed the game off by scoring the goal and did a great job.”
“I’m so very happy for him because he’s a quality player and I hope he continues; I know he will. I’m super happy for him.”
United go again on Sunday and face a Spurs side one place above them in fifth position in the table but with a six point advantage.