Manchester United winger Jesse Lingard’s relief was palpable after his side finally escaped sixth place in the Premier League.
United extended an unmatched unbeaten run to an 18th league game on Sunday as relegation-threatened Middlesbrough were overcome 3-1 at the Riverside Stadium.
The Red Devils’ 600th Premier League win was a timely shot in the arm as the race for Champions League qualification heats up and finally meant they end a game week out of sixth spot.
United had ended every round of fixtures in that position since November and Lingard was pleased to help his team get over the hump with a spectacular second-half strike.
“That was my first Prem goal so it was a long time coming,” he said.
“But I think the lads dug in deep today, a great victory and we’ll push on forwards now.
“We have been there a very long time after a lot of games.
“We have dropped a few points with the draws that we had when we should have won, so it is good to move up finally and we have got to concentrate on the next game.”
The international break means United will not be in action again until hosting West Brom on April 1 – a match Mourinho’s side will head into with renewed belief.
There remains issues to contend with, but a togetherness and confidence is being cultivated at Old Trafford.
The fighting spirit was epitomised by the way they stood up for one another in altercations towards the end of the Riverside encounter, while the confidence was highlighted by Lingard’s fine strike and his Drake-inspired celebration.
“You know you don’t shoot, you don’t score,” Lingard said.
“We have started taking it upon ourselves to shoot outside the box and see what happens.
“I promised my friend I’d do something involving a flute. It is just this song that came out today by Drake.”