Manchester United cruised to a 3-0 victory against a lacklustre Leicester City at the King Power stadium, and United boss Jose Mourinho said it was easy once Mkhitaryan broke the deadlock.
Mourinho’s side are now unbeaten in 15 Premier League games (W8 D7) since their 4-0 thumping at Stamford Bridge on October 23. The Reds hold the longest current undefeated run in all top five European leagues.
The United boss admitted once his players got a foothold in the game, there was no way back for Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester.
“We started having control, we moved the ball well, we started creating chances, we score goals,” he said. “That’s the only difference.
“We changed, we started finding more spaces and then the first goal come, and when the first goal come everything is easy for us.”
Both sides had trouble creating any clear-cut chances during the first 40 minutes, until Henrikh Mkhitaryan latched on to a Smalling flick just inside his own half and was soon one-on-one with Schmeichel. The speedy Armenian kept his effort low to make it 1-0 with three minutes left of the first half.
Two minutes later, Valencia found space out wide and drilled a low ball across the box where Zlatan Ibrahimović calmly placed it beyond Schmeichel’s reach to bag his 15th Premier League goal of the season.
Asked how he tactically went about breaking down Leicester’s back four, Mourinho said: “We tried not to give [Wes] Morgan and [Robert] Huth a two against one fight and target Zlatan. We tried to give more freedom to Zlatan by playing with Marcus [Rashford] there.”
Ranieri’s men struggled to match United’s intricate play, and with 49 minutes on the clock, Juan Mata exquisitely played a one-two with Mkhitaryan which bamboozled the Leicester back four, and the Spaniard made it 3-0 with a finessed left-footed effort.
On another day, Mata could have seen red for a late tackle on Leicester striker Jamie Vardy – the 28-year-old escaped with a yellow card after 28 minutes.
Mourinho’s disgust at several refereeing decisions have been well-documented, and after benefiting from Anthony Taylor’s call to show Mata a yellow card, the United manager was quick to cast his mind back to previous incidents where he wasn’t so lucky.
“If I compare that with what Bravo did to Rooney in the Man City game, if I compare that with what Niasse did in the last game, there is no possible point of comparison, so let’s try to go for what is and what isn’t, because during the season everything really, is going against us, and if today is a doubtful decision, it’s probably one of a few where we’re not punished by bad decisions.”