Belfast Telegraph

Jose slams fixture chiefs after Euro joy

By Robert Jones

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho aimed an attack on the fixture schedulers after his side progressed to the quarter-finals of the Europa League with a 2-1 aggregate win over Rostov.

United, who played on Monday in the FA Cup at Chelsea and face a trip to Middlesbrough for a Sunday lunchtime kick-off, won 1-0 on the night thanks to Juan Mata's second-half strike.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic hit the woodwork twice while Paul Pogba also stung the hands of Rostov goalkeeper Nikita Medvedev before the world's most expensive player went off injured.

"In the first half we were fresh, really dominant and we created chances and looked like we were going to score a couple of goals to kill it," said Mourinho.

"We have lots of enemies, it is difficult to play Monday night with 10 men, it is difficult to play now and it is difficult to play on Sunday at 12 o'clock so we have lots of enemies, but the boys were fantastic."

The visitors had arguably the best chance when Sardar Azmoun's left-footed strike from the edge of the box was superbly kept out by Sergio Romero before Mata popped up to tap in the night's only goal with 20 minutes remaining.

Christian Noboa's stoppage-time free-kick forced a superb save from Romero to prevent the tie from going to extra-time and although the United boss was delighted with his side's performance, he had a damning reaction to his team's fixture pile-up.

He continued: "We have lots of things going against us and we will have to fight and we will probably lose on Sunday. Fatigue has a price."

On being the only team from the top six of the Premier League left in Europe, the Portuguese responded: "It is bad for us because the five teams in front of us in the Premier League has no international football. They will play one match a week and do not know what fatigue is."

Goalscorer Mata was relieved to qualify for the last eight.

He said: "It was a matter of finishing our chances again. I think in the first half we created some nice chances but we couldn't finish - we need to score and if not it is difficult to go through.

"They are a team that push until the end and they play with a difficult system to play against but I think we did well. It was important to get through, Sergio (Romero) did a good job, our defenders as well, so we are happy."

Prior to the game, meanwhile, Mourinho revealed he would never have sold Angel Di Maria, Javier Hernandez or Danny Welbeck had he been in charge when they departed Old Trafford, nor would he have given the go ahead to some of United's signings.

"Manchester United sold players that I would never sell and bought players that I would never buy," he said.

"I would never have sold Di Maria, Chicharito, Danny Welbeck - never, no chance."

Mourinho insists his side are not ready to dominate like United teams have in the past and added: "We are not ready to be Manchester United.

"We are not ready to be a dominant force. We are not ready to try and win everything.

"Because of the nature of the club, and of myself, we are ready to fight for every game, every point.

"But there is a space between the general ambition of such a giant club and what we are in reality."

Belfast Telegraph


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