Ashley Young scored two fine goals, of which one was a free-kick, as Manchester United beat Watford 4-2 in a pulsating Premier League tie on Tuesday night but Red Devils boss Jose Mourinho said he was surprised the Englishman took the set-piece in the first place.
“I am surprised that Paul (Pogba) gave him permission (for the free-kick for the second goal). In training, his conversion rate (from free-kicks) is high but we have other options and sometimes he doesn’t take but probably today, after his first goal, he had the confidence. Paul let him have the option to take and it was a beautiful goal, yeah,” Mourinho expressed at the post-match press conference.
Young’s snap-shot was a worthy opener in the 19th minute and the wing-back would then double the visitors’ lead six minutes later with a dipping free-kick from distance that managed to deceive Watford keeper Heurelho Gomes.
Anthony Martial added another just after the half-hour mark to put United in complete control of the tie. United continued to enjoy plenty of possession and had plenty of chances to extend their lead but the likes of Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku, in particular, squandered easy chances.
The Red Devils’ wastefulness in the first-half almost cost them the win as the hosts sparked a late comeback in the second-half courtesy of goals from Troy Deeney and Abdoulaye Doucoure.
Jesse Lingard eventually sealed the result with a fine individual strike and Mourinho was quick to defend Lukaku despite the striker missing a relatively routine one-on-one.
“I think he needs a big contract with boots. At the moment, he has no contract with any brand, that is why he is wearing black boots! Jokes apart, he works amazingly well for the team,” Mourinho stated as he continued, “I would never blame him for missing an easy chance, never. He’s an amazing professional. I couldn’t be happier with him”.
Anthony Martial, who struggled for playing time under the Portuguese tactician last year, has forced his way into the Mourinho’s first-team plans this season.
The talented Frenchman was on target against Watford too, to bring his goals tally in the Premier League to six, two more than he managed in the entirety of the 2016-17 season.
And Mourinho was asked whether he was happy with the 21-year-old’s contribution, to which he responded: “Yes, I am pleased. I think he suffers a little bit with accumulation of matches. I could feel that in the second half he was going down and down and down”.
“He’s still a young guy and his body, his biological situation has space to improve but in the first half, during the time, he had strength and explosion in his legs. He was dangerous and (scored) an important goal,” the 54-year-old added.