Jose Mourinho took time out from bashing defender Luke Shaw to praise his performance in the 3-0 defeat of Sunderland on Sunday.
Shaw played the first hour at the Stadium of Light tie before being replaced by Danny Blind, having provided an assist for Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s 46th minute goal, after Zlatan Ibrahimovic had opened the scoring on 30 minutes.
Marcus Rashford found a third late on after coming off the bench.
Shaw was criticised by Mourinho in recent matches, with Utd boss saying that the only reason he played well in the 1-1 draw with Everton was because he was controlling all of the 21-year-old’s movements.
But after defeating the basement side, the Portuguese told Sky Sports: “I told him it was a very solid performance.
“He didn’t make mistakes, he was confident on the ball and he was focused so easy for me to tell him it was good, solid performance.”
He added: “He came off because he had a yellow card and the crowd was putting pressure on the referee. We fear that situation but the performance was quite solid.”
With regards to what the three points means to their season, Mourinho continued: “The result was good. We reacted to the results of yesterday because Man City and Liverpool won and it left us in a position of ‘yes or no?’ and it was a yes.
“They fought hard, they gave everything they could but you could feel that negative feeling around a team who is close to relegation. We controlled the match and with the second goal immediately, it was finished.”