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Manchester United are on way back, claims confident Jose Mourinho

By Jim Gracey

Growing confidence Jose Mourinho warned his old club Chelsea and their title rivals that his improving Manchester United team will pose a threat to them in the New Year.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored United's late winner in a controversial 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park as Chelsea moved six points clear at the top of the Premier League with a 1-0 win at Sunderland. But, with two wins in four days, United are closing the gap on the top four. And Mourinho insisted his sixth-placed side are playing well enough to be challenging the teams at the top.

More: Manchester United back in fight for place at top table as Ibrahimovic strikes late winner

He said: "There are three more matches until the end of the year and let's see how it ends on December 31 and we can feel then and smell what is possible to do in the second part of the season."

Mourinho added: “We are doing enough to be in the top six. If we had the points we lost at home with draws in matches that we did more than enough to win, we would be close to the top of the league.

“But we lost these points and in this moment we are just closing the gap to the top four positions, so let’s try.”

Asked about matchwinner Ibrahimovic, Mourinho said: “He had a phenomenal performance. After the goal he had the strength and spirit to go in front of the back four and defend.

“It was an amazing performance for a guy who is 35-years-old, scoring goals, being a leader, amazing.”

When asked about his own touchline demeanour, the United boss said: “I am calm. I sit on the bench and try not to show any emotion.

“I am happy with the victory and even if we had not won I would be the same, happy with the performance.

“We played very, very well. It was a big evolution. People sometimes forget about good performances and focus on results. We are still sixth so we need more points.”

Ibrahimovic had the final say after James McArthur cancelled out Paul Pogba’s first-half opener.

Crystal Palace boss Alan Pardew said: “We did better in the second half, but they have some quality players and we’ve been undone at the end by two of the best. It was galling for my team.

“The manner of the first goal is galling. We knew it was offside, it hits his arm and you expect the linesman to see that.

“We missed a bit of oomph in the first half but the second half was better. We just couldn’t see it out. We scored a really well manufactured goal, it was a body blow at the end but the resolve of the team is strong.

“We have Chelsea next and we need the same commitment. A refereeing decision to go our way wouldn’t be a bad thing. We need to start winning.”

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