Jose Mourinho hailed Romelu Lukaku’s ability to bounce back from a difficult start as the Belgian inspired a Manchester United fightback to beat Chelsea 2-1 at Old Trafford.
Lukaku cancelled out Willian’s opener with his first United goal against top six Premier League opposition before crossing for Jesse Lingard to head home the winner 15 minutes from time.
“I think he played fantastically well,” said Mourinho on Lukaku’s performance.
“The team didn’t start well, didn’t start very confident, happened the same to him…he was a little bit lost but then he went together with the team.
“He ended the game with the image of a hand in the goal.”
Victory against his former club was particularly sweet for Jose Mourinho as he got one over on Chelsea boss Antonio Conte, but more importantly moves United back above Liverpool into second place in the Premier League.
“It’s a good day for me and we won so that’s the most important thing,” said Lukaku.
“To get the winner would have been even better for me, but to get the goal before half-time was really important for us. We showed our qualities and our desire in the second half.”
Defeat allied to Tottenham Hotspur’s late win earlier in the day at Crystal Palace sees Chelsea slip to fifth.
The visitors enjoyed the better of the first period but failed to build on Willian’s 32nd minute opener.
“For sure we missed by disappointed for the final result,” said Conte.
“Because when you have this type of situation you have to manage the game better with experience and maturity to get three points.”
The spectre of another fiery clash between Mourinho and Conte, who have publicly bickered in recent months, hogged the headlines before kick-off, but there was a peace offering when the pair shook hands before the action got underway.
Mourinho recalled Paul Pogba to his starting XI after dropping the £89 million (100 million euros, $124 million) midfielder for Wednesday’s stalemate at Sevilla in the Champions League.
But it was one of Conte’s two changes from his side’s 1-1 draw with Barcelona in midweek who nearly made an immediate impact.
Alvaro Morata started for the first time in six weeks, but saw his side-footed volley from Marcos Alonso’s driven cross come back off the bar just four minutes in.