Manchester: With this clash of the giants at the top of the Premier League, Manchester City went 11 points clear of their rivals. It was a hugely significant win over Manchester United in terms of City’s title hopes. But United’s manager, Jose Mourinho, doesn’t take defeat easily and branded City ‘lucky’ but virtually conceded the league title.
“I think they are lucky. I think they have all these decisions (referee’s) in their favour,” he said. Mourinho was bitter that Ander Herrera did not win a penalty in the 79th minute after a challenge by City defender Nicolas Otamendi. In fact, the referee booked the United midfielder for diving. “It is definitely a huge penalty in a crucial moment in the game,” he said.
City manager, Pep Guardiola, hit back though, saying: “We won because we were better. Last season it was the same, we won here and it was the referee (blamed) and today as well.” Otamendi’s match-winning goal gave City a 14th win in succession, equalling the Premier League record of Arsenal in 2004. But Mourinho was even bitter about the goals, calling them: “Two very bad goals from a corner and a free-kick with rebounds and incredibly lucky or unlucky, depending on the perspective.
“I think you expect Manchester City to score great goals, not to score two disgraceful goals, they’re the last goals you expect to concede against a quality team like Manchester City.” Asked if the title race was over he added: “Probably, yes. I am pretty sure everyone is going to try to reduce the distance but their advantage is a very good one,” said Mourinho.
Guardiola added: “We played outstandingly. To come to Old Trafford and play the way we did was so, so clever. People said we couldn’t play the way we (his team then) did in Barcelona — where Guardiola won league titles three times — in England but it is possible and we did it.”
Mourinho has been a highly successful manager in his career at Chelsea, as well as, Italy, Portugal and Spain and he has made Manchester United solid again. This was their first defeat at home in 41 matches. It is perhaps unfortunate for Mourinho that he has come to United at a time when Guardiola is around. This City team are the best in their history, one of the best the country has seen. That is the challenge facing Mourinho whose side had hardly 35 per cent of possession during the game. It’s a shame that such a big match was marred by fracas at the end of the game with skirmishes between players. United believed City players had gloated and celebrated too much following their 2-1 win and showed a ‘lack of respect’.
From Andy Jalil at Old Trafford