Jose Mourinho hailed the performance of Aleksandr Golovin after watching the playmaker star in Russia’s 5-0 win against Saudi Arabia.
Golovin, who has been linked with a move to Manchester United, scored one goal and set up three in the World Cup host’s opening day win.
Mourinho has already run the rule over the CSKA Moscow player in recent weeks - watching him in action against Austria last month. And after his outstanding display on Thursday, United's manager was quick to pick him out as the key man.
“The manager changed the team in relation to the match I watched in Austria,” he told Russia Today, who he is working as a pundit for during the World Cup. “He played with a back four, which is normal against a team like Saudi.
“I think Alan Dzagoev was playing quite well, but when he came out, the fact that Golovin could go to a more central position, I think it helped the team.
“The team became better. Golovin is a playmaker, he’s a player that gives the dynamic of the team. Denis Cheryshev is a fast boy on the wing, more of a winger than Golovin, stretch the game more than Golovin, so I think the change worked perfectly.”
Despite working for a Russian broadcaster, Mourinho refused to get carried away by the host’s spectacular start.
“Before the match we were talking about the Russians being so pessimistic – and I don’t think you have a reason to be super optimistic – but be happy, good victory, good score,” he added.