Jose Mourinho will be a happy man on Boxing Day.
[ RECAP: United win 3-1 ]
His Manchester United side is now just one point off the top four in the Premier League as they continued to gel and look threatening in attack.
Goals from Daley Blind, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and a sublime strike from Henrikh Mkhitaryan eased United to a 3-1 victory as Mourinho’s boys have now won four-straight games in the Premier League and have lost just once in their last 10 outings.
[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]
Speaking after the game, Mourinho confirmed that there was some bad news as captain Wayne Rooney missed the game through injury and is unlikely to feature against Middlesbrough on Dec. 31 at Old Trafford.
“Let’s see if it is possible. I am not so sure about it,” Mourinho said of Rooney’s injury. “I hope so but I have my doubts. Muscle injury. Deep muscle.”
On the performance itself, United’s manager wasn’t too impressed with the first half display but was pleased with a fourth-straight win.
“I think we did not play well first half. David [Moyes] and Sunderland deserved credit for our bad first half,” Mourinho told Sky Sports. “I wasn’t happy with the way we were playing. We were a bit lucky to be 1-0 in front. In the second half we were strong. The second goal arrived late because we did more than enough to score the second and third goal and kill the game. Three important points. Four matches and 12 points, that’s what we need.”
As for Mkhitaryan, he delivered a moment of sheer genius in the second half as the Armenian playmaker marked his return from injury with a mind-blowing back heel goal at full stretch.
Mourinho was impressed.
“It was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. It was a pity it was the third goal in a game and not a phenomenal goal in a game to win a great match. That would be in Man United history,” Mourinho said. “It is good for him. He was playing really well. He had that injury that stopped his evolution but then he comes back and I think he plays 25 minutes and well and shows that he is ready to be back to the level that himself he creates expectations for all of us because we expect great things.”
With Zlatan playing the ball behind him, Mkhitaryan launched himself towards goal and flicked the ball into the top corner with his back heel. Here’s what he thought about it as he confirmed he has is feeling fit and ready to contribute even more.
“I was expecting the ball in front of me but I was already in front so I go the ball behind me. The only thing I could do was the chance to hit with the back heel. I did. And I succeed,” Mkhitaryan said, modestly.
Mourinho also confirmed that a deal basically been agreed for Ibrahimovic to stay at United for another season (Zlatan’s agent has suggested as much earlier in the day) as the Swedish striker scored eight goals in his last seven PL games and took his tally to 17 goals in 26 games in a United shirt.
“It is activated in his brain and in my decisions and in the owners and the board, no problem,” Mourinho said.
All in all, a very merry Christmas for Mourinho and Co.