MANCHESTER, England – Manchester United coach Jose Mourinho praised striker Romelu Lukaku on Monday on the eve of a Champions League group stage match against Benfica, where the 54-year-old got his start as a manager.
Lukaku is United’s top scorer in both the Premier League – where he has seven goals, just one fewer than Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane – and the Champions league, where he found the back of the net three times in as many games.
“What he does for the team is fantastic and to play football for a striker is not just about scoring goals. For me, he is untouchable in my team and I think he should be untouchable in the support and the respect he deserves from the fans,” Mourinho said at his pre-match press conference.
United top Group A with nine points after three matches, three points ahead of Basel, who are set to take on third-place CSKA Moscow.
“Our aim tomorrow is to qualify. Ten points would be okay, but our main aim is to qualify first in the group,” the Portuguese coach said of his ambitions for the Benfica match at Old Trafford.
He cautioned, however, that beating his former club would not be an easy task, though Benfica has yet to earn a point and has been outscored 8-1.
“Benfica will give us a difficult match. They have their own ambition and pride and they will try to win, we just want to get to the last 16 by finishing first in the group,” Mourinho said.