Mourinho admits flaws in victory

Nemanja Matic celebrating his late winner to complete Manchester United's comeback victory with Chris Smalling. The English defender had earlier scored United's first.
Nemanja Matic celebrating his late winner to complete Manchester United's comeback victory with Chris Smalling. The English defender had earlier scored United's first. PHOTO: REUTERS
Goalkeeper David de Gea cannot hide his dejection after Crystal Palace's Patrick van Aanholt put the relegation-threatened side 2-0 up early in the second half. The Spaniard's anguish turned into joy in the end, as United left Selhurst Park with all
Goalkeeper David de Gea cannot hide his dejection after Crystal Palace's Patrick van Aanholt put the relegation-threatened side 2-0 up early in the second half. The Spaniard's anguish turned into joy in the end, as United left Selhurst Park with all three points. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

United boss bemoans defensive mistakes after slow start allowed Palace to lead by two

LONDON • Jose Mourinho praised his team's intensity in recovering from two goals down against Crystal Palace but conceded their late victory on Monday was a "fantastic comeback with mistakes".
 

The United manager was in magnanimous mood after Nemanja Matic's stoppage-time strike from 30 yards secured a 3-2 Premier League win at Selhurst Park.

The Serbia international's first goal for United was hard on a Palace side who led through Andros Townsend and Patrick van Aanholt only for Chris Smalling and Romelu Lukaku, with his 99th Premier League goal, to peg them back.

"We started bad once more. Not pressing the ball, not pressing the opposition and giving them too much space," Mourinho said.

"Then they scored the goal. And in the second half, we conceded again. But, after that, the attitude was fantastic, and the intensity, the quality, the dynamic."

The 55-year-old took heart especially with the way his players shrugged off their limp opening to move back above Liverpool, who they host on Saturday, into second place in the Premier League and within 16 points of runaway leaders Manchester City.

"You always need that little bit of luck to win a match in the last few minutes," Mourinho added.

"We played very good quality football in the second half, but we made so many defensive mistakes in the first. I cannot tell you half of the things I told my team at half-time because there would be lots of bleeping on television.

"But to come back from 0-2 away from home against a team that is desperate for points, it gives us a great feeling."

Despite the win, Mourinho will reflect on the way his side were outplayed in the first half, something for him to take note of ahead of Saturday's big clash in the fight for second spot.

With midfielders Matic and Paul Pogba rattled by Palace's relentless pressing similar to that of Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp's high-press game, United were unable to match their opponents' intensity.

The out-of-form Pogba, dropped several times by Mourinho recently, was a major cause of the visitors' woes as the Frenchman was wasteful in possession and caught out of position time and again.

He was playing so badly that former United defender Gary Neville, on pundit duty for Sky Sports, was moved to say: "It's like everything he does is like a YouTube or Instagram video.

"It's like it's not serious, it's like a joke to him in terms of the way he goes about things."

Fortunately for Pogba, he sparked into life following Smalling's goal and even had a curling shot pushed away by Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.

The defeat left Palace in the relegation zone and Roy Hodgson feeling they had been just as hard done by as they were in last month's 1-0 defeat by Tottenham.

"It's been a Groundhog Day moment," said the Palace manager.

"We once again go away with no points and, like the game against Tottenham, I thought we deserved something.

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    Manchester United have come from two goals down to win a Premier League game for the first time since December 2013 (at Hull), while this was Crystal Palace's first defeat in the English top-tier competition from a two-goal lead.

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    Jose Mourinho has won his first Premier League game in which his team trailed by two goals (D2 L19).

"I saw a group of players give their all for the club against a team who on paper are bigger than us.

"I can't criticise any player for the effort they made or their discipline tactically.

"If we had drawn the game, I don't think anyone, Jose included, would have said it was a scandal."

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2018, with the headline 'Mourinho admits flaws in victory'. Print Edition | Subscribe