Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has revealed that he made two defensive changes during Sunday's Premier League clash with Middlesbrough in a bid to combat the aerial threat from Steve Agnew's side.
Goals from Marouane Fellaini, Jesse Lingard and Antonio Valencia saw Man United run out 3-1 winners at the Riverside, but the Red Devils had to survive a dangerous spell after Rudy Gestede made it 2-1 in the 77th minute.
Marcos Rojo and Matteo Darmian were both introduced for the away side in the second period, and Mourinho has claimed that Middlesbrough's long-ball tactics forced him to operate with four central defenders.
"We controlled everything until our second goal and then they changed to play with Gestede and [Alvaro] Negredo. They started putting long balls in the box," Mourinho told BT Sport.
"We decided to defend with an extra defender but I think we made the mistake of letting them push us too much into our box and then it was a fighting 15 minutes where they didn't have chances but they were close to the dangerous areas so the game was alive until the last second."
Man United have risen from seventh position to fifth in the Premier League table.