Jose Mourinho has hit back at critics of his style of football by insisting good defending is not a crime.
Manchester United kept their ninth clean sheet in just 13 games so far this season after shutting out Benfica to win 1-0 in Champions League Group A in Lisbon on Wednesday night.
It came just four days after Liverpool fired a blank against Mourinho’s side in a goalless draw at Anfield, a result that prompted some accusations of negative football.
Mourinho told a news conference: “Not that I read it a lot, but sometimes when I read the press, not only English but Portuguese, I feel that sometimes defending properly is seen as a crime but it is not.
“That’s why we controlled the game because we defended properly and the goal was not against the current of the game, but we end up ending the game and we are almost qualified so that’s it.”
Marcus Rashford scored a bizarre winner in the second half when 18-year-old goalkeeper Mile Svilar, who became the youngest keeper to appear in the Champions League, carried the forward’s free kick over the line.
The result was United’s third win in three tries in Group A to almost guarantee qualification for the knockout rounds.
Mourinho added: “You think we have any reason not to be happy?
“We are happy, we have nine points, won the match, didn’t concede goals, the game was calm, team was compact, control and almost there.
“I think one more point to qualify maybe victory to finish first, so all good.”
The only downside for Mourinho was watching Rashford hobble off with a knee injury.
The 19-year-old headed straight down the tunnel after being replaced with Anthony Martial, but the United manager is hopeful the problem is not serious.