Svilar, who carried a Marcus Rashford free-kick into his own net in United’s first leg win two weeks ago, had another eventful evening in the rematch, saving a penalty then scoring an own goal from a Nemanja Matic shot.
But when, for the second time on the night, United were awarded a spot kick, after Andreas Samaris brought down lively substitute Marcus Rashford after 78 minutes, it led to a major debate on the United touchline.
Romelu Lukaku, now without a goal in six games, clearly wanted to take the spot kick but Ander Herrera was sent over with a message from Mourinho that the Belgian was not to.
As the players debated, Mourinho pointed to Daley Blind who strode up to make the shot that finally bought his team some breathing space.
Mourinho said: “I don’t understand why everyone asks me the same. I’m paid to make decisions, good and bad, and in the first half the decision was bad because the player I chose to take the penalty missed.
“In the second half, I made another decision and I don’t see the drama because there is no drama.
“The penalty taker for this match was Martial, he took one in the first half and missed, he wasn’t even on the pitch for the second one.
“Romelu wanted to take it, had the personality, the responsibility to take it – Herrera the same – but my decision based on training the past couple of days was Blind. The players respected my decision and that’s it. End of story.”
The win maintains Manchester United’s perfect start in Europe, with four wins from as many games, although they still need one more point to be mathematically certain of a top-two finish.
Unfortunately for the Premier League side, they will not face Svilar any more because his contribution to United’s campaign so far has been more than helpful.
The first half had centred around the teenage goalkeeper, the youngest in Champions League history, who endured that nightmare start to his European career two weeks ago.
Just before half-time, Matic chanced his arm when space appeared for him to attempt a 25-yard shot which struck the right-hand post, rebounded into play and hit Svilar on the shoulder before bouncing back into his goal.
“Cruel” did not begin to describe Svilar’s fortune, especially after he had made such a brilliant start to the game when he saved Anthony Martial’s penalty.
Martial had won the decision himself after 14 minutes and a bizarre challenge from full-back Douglas who dived at the United man’s feet, both bringing him down and handling the ball in the process.
But the spot kick was a poor attempt, far too casual and at the right height and pace for the youngster to dive to his right and pull off an excellent stop that lifted the Portuguese side’s confidence.
Benfica had already made a solid start but Svilar’s heroics provided a further boost and, within seconds Diogo Goncalves had unleashed a spectacular 25-yard shot that David De Gea kept out with a spectacular diving, one-handed stop.
It was not the first, or last, time De Gea would be called into action with the Spaniard also diving long and low to keep out second-half attempts from Raul Jimenez and Diogo Goncalves as the Portuguese pressed for an equaliser.
Published at Tue, 31 Oct 2017 23:15:00 +0000