Champions League: Manchester United's Mourinho reiterates his case for strong defence as Dzeko haunts Chelsea

Jose Mourinho took a swipe at those who question his tactics after Manchester United put one foot into the knockout stages of the Champions League with a 1-0 victory at Benfica.

Manchester United coach Jose Mourinho gives instructions to his players during a Champions League group A soccer match between Manchester United and Benfica at Benfica's Luz stadium. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
Manchester United coach Jose Mourinho gives instructions to his players during a Champions League group A soccer match between Manchester United and Benfica at Benfica's Luz stadium. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)

The Portuguese was criticised by Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, among others, for a defensive mindset following a goalless draw between the fierce Premier League rivals at Anfield at the weekend.

But Mourinho, who was left sweating over a knee injury to Marcus Rashford, believes focusing on the backline is crucial after watching his side move onto nine points after three Group A games in Europe’s elite club competition.

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He said: “We were the team that was positive and we were always in control. I never felt that we could concede a goal, we were very solid defensively – sometimes I feel that to be good defensively is a crime but it is not a crime.

Roma's Edin Dzeko celebrates scoring his side's third goal of the game during the UEFA Champions League, Group C match at Stamford Bridge, London. (Picture: Tim Goode/PA Wire)

“To be good defensively is one step to get results. We knew the Benfica pressure could not stay for 90 minutes.

“The amazing defensive work Liverpool did against us, Benfica could not do that for the whole game.

“Without any pressure, we knew the goal would arrive.

“We have nine points, we are basically one point from qualifying and one victory away from winning the group. A good game, solid.”

Roma's Edin Dzeko celebrates scoring his side's third goal of the game during the UEFA Champions League, Group C match at Stamford Bridge, London. (Picture: Tim Goode/PA Wire)

Rashford scored the only goal in the 65th minute after catching out Benfica’s 18-year-old goalkeeper Mile Svilar, who carried the ball over the line having been deceived by the England international’s long-range free-kick.

Rashford was substituted soon after and Mourinho added: “I thought it was cramps, I thought it was a bit of fatigue, but no it was something he felt in his knee. I hope nothing too bad.”

Svilar replaced Real Madrid great Iker Casillas as the youngest goalkeeper to start a Champions League match.

Mourinho added: “I knew how good the goalkeeper was, I told the players that. We had a little bit of a strategy, especially on set-pieces to make him uncomfortable.

“He risks a lot, but only top keepers do that.

“He was unlucky for the goal.”

Eden Hazard scored twice as Chelsea battled to a 3-3 draw with Roma to stay top of Champions League Group C.

Chelsea had surrendered a two-goal lead to trail 3-2 with 20 minutes remaining after former Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko’s quick-fire double.

But Hazard headed in to prevent Antonio Conte’s side slipping to a third straight loss for the first time under the Italian’s stewardship.

Hazard’s first goal of the season followed David Luiz’s opener but Aleksandar Kolarov halved the deficit before Dzeko’s delightful volley and free header within seven second-half minutes.

Chelsea were second best, but Hazard headed in Pedro’s cross to give the Blues seven points ahead of the trip to the Eternal City on October 31.

The Blues were seeking a response to successive Premier League losses to Manchester City and Crystal Palace which have left the champions nine points adrift ahead of Saturday’s fixture with Watford.

The Blues did not get the win they craved, but will have been boosted by the way they fought back after ceding the initiative to Roma.

Hazard admitted avoiding defeat was a priority for Chelsea.

“We talked about this,” Hazard said of the preceding defeats, “but we gave everything at the end of the game and we scored one (to equalise) and maybe we should score another one to win the game. But one point is enough today after two defeats, it’s not easy to bounce back against a great team but we did.”

Hazard’s leveller means Chelsea top the group with seven points, two ahead of Roma. “It was a good result for both teams, but when you are 2-0 up at home you must win the game,” he added.

Celtic discovered Bayern Munich are still very much a European force as the Hoops suffered a 3-0 drubbing in their Champions League clash at the Allianz Arena.

The German giants had replaced Carlo Ancelotti with Jupp Heynckes following their 3-0 Group B defeat by Paris St Germain last month but any thoughts of demise were swept away as skipper Thomas Muller opened the scoring in the 17th minute before right-back Joshua Kimmich nodded in a second before half-time.

Mats Hummels headed in a third six minutes after the break and the Bundesliga champions were unfortunate their dominance was not properly reflected in the scoreline.

Celtic’s 3-0 win away to Anderlecht in September means they are favourites to at least end up with a Europa League place after Christmas but they were simply outclassed by the Bundesliga side.