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Manchester United were always eyeing second place before Juve loss – Mourinho

United are five points behind Juventus in Group H and visit Turin in the next round of matches.

Jose Mourinho praised Juventus after their victory at Old Trafford (Martin Rickett/PA)
Jose Mourinho praised Juventus after their victory at Old Trafford (Martin Rickett/PA)

Jose Mourinho claimed Manchester United were always fighting for second place in Group H after a home Champions League loss to Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus.

Paulo Dybala’s 18th-minute goal settled the contest at Old Trafford, with Juventus enjoying the majority of possession and chances but United improving in the second half, when Paul Pogba hit the post.

The result leaves United five points adrift of Juventus ahead of their visit to Turin next month and two points ahead of Valencia, who Mourinho described as his team’s real rivals.

The Portuguese said: “We played against one of the biggest, really biggest candidates, to win the Champions League and we did the possible.

“We could get the different result, especially because of the way we played in the second half. We didn’t especially because Mr (Leonardo) Bonucci, Mr (Giorgio) Chiellini, they could go to Harvard University to give classes about how to be a central defender. Absolutely fantastic.

“It is a team that has everything, they have talent everywhere. Of course Cristiano, Dybala, the talent they have in attack, but the quality all over the pitch and a really difficult match.

“In the first half they were in control by having a lot of the ball, to frustrate us, to frustrate our intention to be positive.

“In the second half we were more aggressive, big effort by the boys, same team that played two days ago, not really attacking solutions on the bench to try, no (Marouane) Felllaini to change the direction of the game.

“I’m happy with the players. Since the draw we knew it would be a fight with Valencia for the second position and that is what we are going to try.”

Mourinho was frustrated by United’s summer transfer dealings and cited Juve’s ambition in the market as the reason they are among the favourites for the biggest titles.

Asked how far away United are from the Italians, Mourinho said: “A bit far. Juventus are champions (of Italy) for seven years in a row, two Champions League finals in the last four or five years and (they’re) not happy with what they have, they want more.

“They had (Gonazlo) Higuain, (Mario) Mandzukic, Dybala, they want more. They want Ronaldo. They had (Andrea) Barzagli, Chiellini, (Daniele) Rugani, they are not happy, they want more, they want Bonucci, and they go for the best players in the world.

“A big, big club with a big past but with also a big desire to have a big future and everything they put there to try to win, I don’t say the Champions League, I think to win the treble, that’s what they want.”

Juve boss Massimiliano Allegri was pleased with the way his team played to their strengths to put themselves in a virtually unassailable position.

He said: “We knew that we would have to play a very good game from a technical point of view because we knew that playing against a team like United, who are very physical, very good on the high balls, we couldn’t really afford to engage in that kind of physical game.

“I thought we played a fantastic first half, we probably should have scored a second goal.

“In the second half, we did give the ball away on a few occasions but we played well, it was a great game to watch.”



From Belfast Telegraph