Manchester United defeated Swansea City 2-0 at the Liberty Stadium on the back of a brace from Jesse Lingard to advance in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night.
United manager Jose Mourinho made several changes from Saturday's disappointing 2-1 loss at Huddersfield Town in the Premier League and picked out several top performers for praise after the match.
Academy graduates take chance
Two players introduced to the line-up who pleased Mourinho were 19-year-old defender Axel Tuanzebe and 20-year-old midfielder Scott McTominay. The two academy graduates started the game and put in strong performances.
"I think they did both well," Mourinho told Sky Sports after the match, before singling the two young players out for individual praise.
"I would say Scott probably very well because he was really comfortable and strong in midfield. Axel I think started a little bit shaky," Mourinho admitted, "but then he got stability and he had also a good performance like at the match at Huddersfield mistakes were part of a global attitude and the kids' good performances were also consequence of a good team performance."
McTominay made his Premier League debut at the end of last season in United's defeat at the Emirates and featured heavily during the summer preseason tour. Tuesday's start was his first of the 2017/18 season, and he will hope to get another chance in the Carabao Cup quarter-final.
Meanwhile, the victory over Swansea was the first appearance of the year for Tuanzebe, who made his United debut last winter against Wigan in the FA Cup.
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Smalling, Romero earn praise as well
In addition to his talented young players, Mourinho had words of praise for goalkeeper Sergio Romero and defender Chris Smalling, who held the responsibility of organizing United's defence against the Swans. Both played well and helped lead United to a clean sheet.
"They [Swansea] have a good squad with lots of options, as I was saying before there is no big difference the players, but we were really comfortable, the attitude was very good, Romero and Smalling gave us big stability, I am really happy, it was quite comfortable, no injuries, so good day for us," said Mourinho.
Heavyweight clashes looming
While United no doubt appreciated Tuesday night's victory, it was nothing but a respite in the midst of a tough run of league fixtures.
United have just one point from their last two Premier League matches and have dropped five points on table-topping Manchester City in the space of a week. Things get no easier for the Reds this weekend when Tottenham Hotspur come to Old Trafford, with both teams looking to show they will be the one to challenge City for the league this season.
After that, United can book a place in the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League when they host Benfica at the midweek before traveling down to London to play Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.