The win at Juve recalls Mourinho's ability at the highest level
While Cristiano Ronaldo claimed that Manchester United could not avoid hammering in Turin, Jose Mourinho had to recover a setback reminiscent of his abilities at the highest level, writes James Robson.
Ronaldo did not try to hide his frustration after seeing Juventus with a late show for a 2-1 win.
His stunning volleyball seemed to be able to equalize the Champions League knockout rounds, just two goals in the last five minutes to turn the game upside down.
The Portuguese striker insisted on the standard series. The only reason why United had left Italy was with a victory close to qualifying for the knockout round. Juan Mata scored a direct free-kick and Alex Sandro scored after a great ball from his own net Ashley Young in the 89th minute.
But Mourinho was pleased with the impact of his replacements when the match seemed to be lost – Mata, Marcus Rashford and Marouane Fellaini asking questions that Juve coach Max Allegri could not answer.
Ronaldo said: "We are a bit disappointed because we could have easily won the game with three or four goals.
"Manchester, they did not do much in my opinion. You have created two chances, set pieces. I know the English teams, they are always looking for the standards.
"But we've learned from our mistakes and are still the front runners in the group, so we're good."
David de Gea scored superb saves in each half of the game to deny Juve, who was also hit twice before Ronaldo's 65th-minute strike.
Mourinho sent Fellaini to save the game as he sought a more direct approach and welcomed the impact of the Belgian player.
While Ronaldo dismissed United's ability to create from the open play, Mourinho explained the effects of his in-game management, resulting in a notable comeback against the team that he believes is "super favorite" to win the Champions League win.
"I think he was important to bring the team back to life," he said. "When you gave the goal, from a psychological point of view, the team had a time when we went down a bit and Juventus finally had control and was finally dangerous in a counter-attack.
"Fellaini has given us the opportunity to be alive by playing directly, bringing the game back to the last third, and by being in the last third, it gave us the opportunity to create situations like ours. We win first balls in the air.
"Massimiliano had to react, had to bring (Andrea) Barzagli, and when he brings Barzagli, (Juan) Cuadrado goes out and their counterattack is less dangerous because they are trying to control.
"Then we can do it, we create a shot of Rashford, which I thought was a goal, and the free kick that Mata scored beautifully, and the side free kick that I do not know who hit net."
Mourinho accepted that United was fortunate enough to get all three points – but he also had another very encouraging statement regarding the further evidence that he was reversing his fortune.
"Probably, when Manchester United had heroic actions here, Manchester United was the best team," he said. "You (Juve) have been a top team for many years.
"They have bought this player (Ronaldo), they want to win everything, they can win everything and we are a team in which many players in the Champions League have not played any major games like these.
"So it's a difficult situation, but it's a fantastic win for us, a win that's not just about the points we lost at home, but the feeling of how well we played.
"And I think even if this game does not end with a win, I would feel that the team has played really well from the first minute – I repeat – a great team."
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