Belfast Telegraph

Manchester United must improve, says Mourinho after Matic snatches unlikely victory

Crystal Palace 2-3 Manchester United

By Declan Warrington

A half-time rocket from Jose Mourinho and a stunning injury-time blast from Nemanja Matic gave Manchester United a crucial 3-2 win at Selhurst Park last night.

United were 2-0 down to Crystal Palace and struggling after goals from Andros Townsend and Patrick van Aanholt. But Mourinho’s men hit back with Chris Smalling and Romelu Lukaku finding the net before Matic’s late winner.

United move back into second place in the Premier League, ahead of Liverpool, who the Red Devils meet on Saturday.

Mourinho said: “The message at half-time? I cannot tell you because you would have lots of (bleeps) but half of it was tactical information.”

Mourinho appeared a frustrated figure on the touchline during the first half as his United team failed to break down a resilient Palace defence.

Mourinho continued: “In the first half Alexis (Sanchez) was on the left, in the second half he was behind Lukaku.

“Instead of three midfielders we played only with two. We gambled a little bit with a two against two at the back without Matic’s protection in front of them.”

Matic’s outstanding strike was his first goal for the club and he said: “After 2-0 it was very difficult for us to come back because they had the crowd behind them but we showed character.

“We believed until the end and we did exactly what the manager wanted from us. He said at half-time that we had to do more than in the first half and I’m happy for these three important points.

“We are improving. We need to do more for sure, because in, let’s say, small games we have dropped some very important points.

“The quality is there for sure but we have to be honest, we have to do more. There are five or six teams that can realistically challenge for the title.

“I hope that next season, and the end of this season, we will learn from our mistakes and hopefully we can do better.”

Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson said: “The only thing that has disappointed me is the fact that once again we go away with no points.

“I didn’t think we were that much in danger. It wasn’t even impossible that we’d score the third goal.”

Gary Neville, meanwhile, criticised Paul Pogba for performing as if “everything he does is like a YouTube or Instagram video” during the first half.

The United midfielder gave the ball away with a long attempted pass before Townsend gave Palace a 1-0 half-time lead.

“His great weakness is that he plays like he’s playing in the park with his mates,” said Neville during the half-time analysis on Sky Sports.

“It’s like everything he does is like a YouTube or Instagram video. It’s like it’s not serious, it’s like a joke to him in terms of the way he goes about things. It’s no wonder Jose Mourinho has left him out for the past few weeks a number of times.”

Neville was also critical of the lack of chemistry between Pogba’s team-mates.

He added: “I’ve never seen a Jose Mourinho team as inefficient as this. They’re always efficient teams, they always do things really calmly, they are usually solid in defence.

“He won’t recognise, I don’t recognise this as a performance. They are just individuals. They play in moments, they are not a unit yet.

“They’ve got to come together quickly because they’ve got to finish the season strongly but, most importantly, how are they going to get to a level that competes next season with Manchester City? They are nowhere near that level out there.”

Belfast Telegraph

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