Jose Mourinho let his pent-up anger out on some water bottle holders after dreadful Manchester United rode their luck to seal progress to the Champions League last-16 through Marouane Fellaini’s late strike against Young Boys.
With Juventus beating Valencia in the other Group H match, United knew victory against the Swiss champions – a side they beat 3-0 in Switzerland – would have secured progress with a match to spare.
But Mourinho’s underperforming side lacked creativity, cohesion and confidence against a Young Boys side displaying all those characteristics, only for Fellaini to secure a lucky 1-0 win and progress to the knockout phase in stoppage time.
The United manager’s frustration had been growing throughout the match and his angry celebration said it all as he kicked one water bottle carrier and threw another into the floor.
Victory meant United head to Valencia next month with progress assured, but Tuesday’s performance raises more questions than answers given their tepid response to Saturday’s goalless draw with struggling Crystal Palace.
Mourinho called into question some of his players’ “heart” and desire after that match, so his decision to drop Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba to the bench raised eyebrows almost as much as his decision to omit Alexis Sanchez entirely.
Mourinho bristled when quizzed about that selection before kick-off and pointed to onlookers “always asking” him to play Marcus Rashford – a player who missed a fine chance in the opening minutes and numerous more over the course of the night.
The United manager’s exasperation was clear and only increased as the match wore on, with Fellaini eventually securing a late win much to the relief of his manager and the Old Trafford faithful.
It was a night to forget despite the result, with Rashford – one of six changes – quick to get under Mourinho’s skin, having raced through only to dink the ball over the goalkeeper and the crossbar.
After Fred whistled a left-footed strike just over the bar, the Red Devils boss again expressed his frustration as Fellaini impressively threaded through Rashford, only for Young Boys goalkeeper David Von Ballmoos to easily save.
Mourinho continued to prowl around the technical area, showing displeasure when Jesse Lingard overhit a cross before Rashford fizzed a low shot just wide from distance.
There was a fleeting moment of hope just before the break as Rashford burst down the left and cut back, only for Fellaini to fail to meet it and an off-balance Fred to then miss the target.
Rashford hit the side-netting against a Young Boys side that, while second best, offered a threat on the break, with Djibril Sow wasting a great chance to capitalise in stoppage time as his flick bobbled wide.
📸 Young Boys fans at Old Trafford pic.twitter.com/55ghUKsr1W— PA Dugout (@PAdugout) November 27, 2018
Impressive ex-Newcastle full-back Kevin Mbabu hit the side-netting as United continued to look sloppy after the break, with Rashford turning off target shortly after before Fellaini slashed a loose ball over with Von Ballmoos blocked off. The officials’ inactivity meant the imposing midfielder’s blushes were not spared.
Lingard got an attempt on target before being replaced by Lukaku as Fred made way for Pogba in a bid to change the dynamics, with the latter feeding Rashford to get away a snap shot that went wide.
United were on top but there was an audible gasp inside Old Trafford in the 70th minute. Failure to clear the visitors’ corner led to a deflected Ulisses Garcia attempt that David De Gea just managed to claw off the line with an amazing one-handed save. Substitute Garcia had already turned to celebrate.
Sow fizzed over a free-kick as the raucous visiting fans continued to make themselves heard, with Christian Fassnacht firing over after Lukaku headed wide as play became increasingly open.
United lacked ideas and the only real display of fight was Luke Shaw pushing Jean-Pierre Nsame off as he slowly walked off to be substituted.
Young Boys looked most likely to snatch a late winner but, just as home fans streamed out, Fellaini collected a flick-on and found the bottom corner to send the fans wild – and the manager even wilder.