Jose’s ‘beau­ti­ful’ Devils

> Ibrahi­movic, Mar­tial on the dou­ble as United book semis berth

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

MANCH­ESTER UNITED man­ager Jose Mour­inho lauded his play­ers’ “beau­ti­ful foot­ball” after they over­whelmed West Ham United 4-1 to set up a League Cup semi­fi­nal date with Hull City.

United are toil­ing in the Premier League, where a run of four con­sec­u­tive home draws has con­trib­uted to their worst start to a top-flight cam­paign since 1989.

But they pro­duced some ir­re­sistible foot­ball against West Ham at Old Traf­ford yes­ter­day, pre­vail­ing through a brace apiece from Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic and An­thony Mar­tial.

“I’m pleased with the goals be­cause the per­for­mance is some­thing that we are used to,” Mour­inho told Sky Sports, be­fore duck­ing his post-game press con­fer­ence.

“We are play­ing very, very well at home and to­day was more of the same.

“After that goal (West Ham’s equaliser), we had 10 min­utes where we felt it deeply and the play­ers on the pitch could not hide that be­cause West Ham’s first shot, they equalised.

“But in the se­cond half the team got again the con­fi­dence to play and to win com­fort­ably and play beau­ti­ful at­tack­ing foot­ball, which is some­thing that the fans like. But we need re­sults.”

Mour­inho was not present in the dug-out, hav­ing ear­lier been given a one-game touch­line ban for an­grily boot­ing a wa­ter bot­tle dur­ing United’s 1-1 draw with West Ham in the league on Sun­day.

He could not be seen in the di­rec­tors’ box and when asked where he had watched the game, he said it was a “se­cret”.

He had seen his side con­cede in­side two min­utes on Sun­day, but here it was United who struck first as Hen­rikh Mkhi­taryan’s deft back-heel re­leased Ibrahi­movic to beat West Ham goal­keeper Adrian.

Ash­ley Fletcher, who left United for West Ham in July, equalised in the 35th minute after David de Gea al­lowed Dim­itri Payet’s shot to bounce away from him.

But Mar­tial scored twice, con­fi­dently tuck­ing away right-wing passes from Mkhi­taryan and then An­to­nio Va­len­cia, be­fore An­der Her­rera teed up Ibrahi­movic for United’s fourth goal in stop­page time.

Her­rera was freed by Bas­tian Sch­we­in­steiger, who re­ceived a warm ova­tion from the Old Traf­ford faith­ful as he came on to make his first ap­pear­ance since last sea­son.

Mour­inho has soft­ened his stance re­gard­ing the for­mer Ger­many cap­tain, who he had pre­vi­ously frozen out, and also saw Mkhi­taryan pro­duce an­other as­sured dis­play on just his third United start.

Mkhi­taryan shone in United’s re­cent 4-0 win over Feyeno­ord in the Europa League, but Mour­inho was more pleased to see the for­mer Borus­sia Dort­mund star im­press against do­mes­tic op­po­si­tion.

“I’m so happy be­cause to­day was against a Premier League team with Premier League qual­i­ties, with Premier League char­ac­ter­is­tics,” Mour­inho said.

“That showed clearly his evo­lu­tion be­cause against ENGLISH LEAGUE CUP Semi­fi­nal draw Man United vs Hull City Southamp­ton vs Liver­pool

Feyeno­ord we could think, ‘OK, it is a dif­fer­ent pro­file of foot­ball.’

“But to­day was against a proper and typ­i­cal Premier League team and Micky could per­form this way. So I’m re­ally happy.

“We know the rea­son why we bought him and we were wait­ing for his adap­ta­tion and it looks like it’s com­ing.”

West Ham man­ager Slaven Bilic pro­fessed him­self “very dis­ap­pointed” and said his team had paid the price for con­ced­ing early goals in both halves.

“You can’t have a slow start any­where, es­pe­cially not here,” said the Croa­t­ian.

“Be­cause they’re good any­way, but es­pe­cially when they’re 1-0 up and can play on the counter-at­tack.

“At half­time we said we can’t al­low them to do it again, but it was ex­actly the same at the start of the se­cond half.” – AFP

West Ham United goal­keeper Adrian makes a save dur­ing yes­ter­day’s League Cup quar­ter­fifi nal match against Manch­ester United at Old Traf­ford. – REUTERSPIX

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