Jose Mourinho has conceded Romelu Lukaku endured an off-colour night at Southampton, but tipped the Belgium striker to be boosted by his St Mary’s goal.
Lukaku fluffed one fine early chance before blasting home in the second half as lacklustre United scrambled a 2-2 Premier League draw at Southampton on Saturday.
The 25-year-old even fell over trying to trap the ball at one point in a sluggish showing, about which Mourinho refused to defend his target man.
When asked how Lukaku was given his off-kilter touches, Mourinho replied: “So tell that, write that; don’t ask me.”
Lukaku did however conjure a fine finish for his first goal in seven matches in all competitions, leaving Mourinho hopeful he will now inch back towards top form.
“I think the goal is always important in a striker,” said Mourinho.
“But I have to say that I’m super happy with Marcus Rashford’s performance and he didn’t score a goal. So sometimes goals are not everything.
“But for a player who hasn’t scored for quite a long time, to score a goal, a good goal, I think is always nice.
“I can imagine that he will go with a better feeling from this match than previously.”
Southampton’s winless Premier League run stretched to 10 games, with Mark Hughes’ men tamely surrendering a dominant and winning position.
Stuart Armstrong rifled Saints into a shock lead, before Cedric Soares’ perfectly-curled free-kick left David De Gea stranded.
Rashford served up two assists in six minutes, as Lukaku and Ander Herrera found the net to drag United level before half-time.
But the visitors’ quizzical showing continued unabated after the interval, leaving both sides somewhat frustrated to emerge with just one point.
Southampton are still without a win since their 2-0 victory at Crystal Palace on September 1, leaving Hughes under increasing pressure for his future.
But the former Stoke City boss continues to bat away any worries on that front, insisting his squad have the quality to step out of the relegation zone.
“The guys give me everything; we’ve just got to give the fans what they want and what they demand, and that’s performances with no little endeavour and skill,” said Hughes.
“We all feel we’re at least six or seven points better than what we’ve got on the board.
“It is what it is at the moment, but we picked up a point against a big club, with huge resources and we deserve the Premier League point that we earned tonight. So never underestimate the value of that.”