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Manchester United

Jose explains Mkhitaryan withdrawal

Manchester United were 2-0 winners over Derby County in the third round of this season’s FA Cup at Old Trafford on Friday evening.

Jesse Lingard and Romelu Lukaku scored the goals in the final 10 minutes in a game we thoroughly deserved after creating chance after chance from the opening minute.

The Championship side struggled to get out of their own half and created very little as they were saved by the post on two occasions and relied on a number of good stops from Scott Carson to keep the score at 0-0 for so long.

Marcus Rashford had been handed a start up front but moved out to the left wing for the start of the second half as Romelu Lukaku was introduced.

The Belgian striker was returning from a head injury suffered against Southampton on 30 December.

Lukaku was introduced for the start of the second half in place of the out-of-form Henrikh Mkhitaryan.  The Armenian had not enjoyed a very good opening 45 minutes, but speaking after the game, Jose Mourinho denied that the substitution had anything to do with the attacking midfielder’s performance.

The boss told MUTV:

“[It was] unfair [to take Mkhitaryan off] and I told him that at half-time. I didn’t like what I did. He didn’t deserve it, he was playing well, he wasn’t playing bad. He had a couple of missed passes but he was playing well and giving a good dynamic to the team. My feeling was just that Rashford is not going to score a goal and because of that I’m not going to lose time and I’m going to play Romelu [Lukaku] so then I had to sacrifice a player. Micki was the one that I sacrificed but it’s something that I don’t normally do but I did at half-time and apologised to him in front of other people because he didn’t deserve it.”

It proved to be a good decision from the boss as Romelu Lukaku went on to score the second goal that ensured a safe passage into the fourth round.

The draw for the next round will take place on Monday evening with the matches themselves taking place during the final weekend of January.