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Jose Mourinho: 'It was my decision' Romelu Lukaku didn't take penalty

MANCHESTER, England -- Jose Mourinho played down his decision to stop Romelu Lukaku from taking a penalty against Benfica by insisting he "does not see the drama."

Manchester United took a step closer to qualification from Group A in the Champions League with a 2-0 win over Benfica at Old Trafford.

The second goal came courtesy of a Daley Blind penalty -- but only after Mourinho had told Lukaku he could not take it. The Belgian grabbed the ball after substitute Marcus Rashford has been brought down in the box.

But Mourinho first gestured to Ander Herrera, and then Lukaku himself, that the £75 million striker should pass the ball to Blind.

Anthony Martial had already seen a first-half penalty saved by 18-year-old goalkeeper Mile Svilar, who was later credited with an own goal after Nemanja Matic's shot cannoned off the post and rebounded in off his arm.

After already responding to a question about the penalty-taker in his TV interview, Mourinho then told a news conference: "I don't understand why everyone asks me the same, I am paid to take decisions good or bad.

"In the first half, the decision was bad. In the second half, I made another decision and I don't see the drama.

"The penalty-taker for this match was Martial, he was not even on the pitch for the second one. Romelu wants to take, he has the personality and character to take the responsibility, Herrera was the same, but my decision was based on training in the past couple of days.

"The players respected my decision and that was it, end of story."

Lukaku was branded "untouchable" by Mourinho in the build up to the game after revealing he was disappointed with what he deemed a lack of support from supporters for the forward during the win over Tottenham at the weekend.

The 24-year-old has now gone six games without a goal -- his longest drought since failing to score in Everton's last 10 games of the 2015-16 season.

Daley Blind made 141 appearances for Manchester United, scoring six goals.
Daley Blind doubled Manchester United's lead from the penalty spot on Tuesday.

Mourinho accused his critics of "talking too much" in the aftermath of the 1-0 victory over Tottenham, and following Blind's successful strike, Mourinho appeared to make a "yapping" gesture with his hand, although he insisted afterwards he "did not remember."

The manager curiously bristled when asked on BT Sport to give his description of his side's performance, at first hesitating to even give an answer.

"It is better for the specialists to comment on the game than for me to give my opinion. I am paid to do my work, which I do every day, and the specialists are paid to comment on my work, so let them comment," he said.

But asked if he wasn't pleased, Mourinho said: "I am more than happy. We changed a lot of players, we broke the natural dynamic of the team and routines of the team. We played a kid [Scott McTominay] from the academy.

"We scored two goals, we didn't concede, three more points, 12, more money for the club because every victory means money. No significant injuries, just something in Jesse [Lingard]'s back, but nothing important. I'm more than happy."

United are now just one point away from securing top spot in the group with a trip to Basel to come on Nov. 22. Basel lost 2-1 at home to CSKA Moscow to prevent United from securing qualification with two games to spare.

Mourinho was a bit surprised that United still have not advance to the knockout stage, telling BT: "We have not qualified yet? Four victories and it is still not enough? We must get that point from the two remaining matches."

Asked about winning the group in his news conference, Mourinho added: "I don't know what is the importance [of finishing top] because sometimes a team finishes first and gets a difficult draw against second and sometimes you get second and get somebody you didn't expect, so I don't know.

"What I know is we want to win the maximum points, we didn't qualify yet, so we are going to try to win the next two matches and finish with 18 points. It would be nice.

"The last time Manchester United was in the Champions League they finished third and went out so it would be nice to do it and we will try."

Rob is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @RobDawsonESPN.

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