Guardiola scoffs at his rival's assertion that City are lucky

David Silva (second from left) scoring the game's opening goal for Manchester City in the 2-1 victory against Manchester United on Sunday. The home side had only 35 per cent possession and now trail City by 11 points.
David Silva (second from left) scoring the game's opening goal for Manchester City in the 2-1 victory against Manchester United on Sunday. The home side had only 35 per cent possession and now trail City by 11 points.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Jose Mourinho admitted the Premier League title race is all but over after Manchester United fell 11 points behind a Manchester City team he described as being "protected by the luck".

His comments came after a 2-1 victory for Pep Guardiola's side at Old Trafford that left the United manager complaining that Ander Herrera should have been awarded a penalty in the second-half incident that led to the midfielder being booked for diving.

"They are a very good team, they are lucky, they have decisions in their favour," he said. "My first reaction is that I feel sorry for Michael Oliver... He was very committed to have a good match, which I think he had, but made one mistake, which was a crucial mistake."

Asked whether the title race was now over, the Portuguese replied: "Probably, yes. Manchester City are a very good team and they are protected by the luck, and the gods of football are behind them."

Guardiola's view was that it was still too early for him to say the same but he dismissed Mourinho's complaints about the penalty.

"We won because we were better in every department," said Guardiola, who has got the better of Mourinho in 10 of their meetings - more wins than any other manager.

"Last season it was the same - we won here and it was the referee. Today as well. Yesterday he spoke about the referee," he added, referring to Mourinho's call for Oliver to be alert to City's "tactical fouls".

"We are an honest team. When a team has the courage to have 65 to 70 or 75 per cent ball possession it is because it wants to try to play and that is what we have done. We are clear, we are open and we want to attack."

City had 14 shots to United's eight. The hosts did not manage a shot on target for 44 minutes before they briefly drew level through Marcus Rashford. Either side of that opportunistic strike were set-piece goals from David Silva and Nicolas Otamendi.

Mourinho, without the suspended Paul Pogba, used four attackers but Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial spent much of the game chasing back, leaving Romelu Lukaku isolated.

United finished with just 35 per cent possession, their lowest at Old Trafford in the league since 2003-04, when possession statistics were first recorded.

"Yes, they had much more of the ball, yes they had that apparent control of the game," Mourinho said. "But the biggest save is the double save of their goalkeeper and the biggest decision of the game is the unlucky decision of Michael (Oliver)."

THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 12, 2017, with the headline 'Guardiola scoffs at his rival's assertion that City are lucky'. Print Edition | Subscribe