Mourinho wins tactical battle, calls out “defensive” Liverpool

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LIVERPOOL — Jose Mourinho went to Anfield to get at least a point. In true form, he got it.

[ MORE: 3 things learned ]

Despite most seeing it otherwise, Mourinho thought that Liverpool set themselves up for a draw on Monday night in the 0-0 draw, even though Jurgen Klopp‘s side had 65 percent of the possession and three very good chances in the second half.

[ MORE: Klopp reacts ]

Speaking to the media after the game, Mourinho wasn’t in a mood to mince his words when referring to United’s bitter rivals Liverpool and had a subtle dig at their overly defensive display.

“They are a very good team. You like to say that they are the last wonder of the world in attacking football but they are also a team that defends and thinks defensively,” Mourinho said. “I think the fact that they played Can and Henderson together to control the position where Paul should be more in control. We thought they were going to play with only one player there but they played with two.”

Okay, Jose.

There was no doubt United’s manager and fans would have been the happier with the draw as Klopp and Liverpool (the top scorers in the Premier League in 2016 and this season) were left frustrated. Liverpool’s manager spoke of his disappointment about being drawn into a “hectic” game and not being better when they had the ball.

They payed into United hands and Mourinho thought his side put in a mature display.

“We controlled the game tactically. We controlled the game emotionally. It is not easy to do both things. The result is acceptable,” Mourinho said. “We wanted more. For long periods in the game we thought that could be possible but we didn’t score. You don’t score you don’t win. I think it was a very positive performance. We stopped them to play but they also did very well on the defensive point of view. They played Can and Henderson for some reason and they did that for 90 minutes. They normally present more players in attack. They were very cautious. I think it was their intention to try and control this, which they also did well.”

As for United’s defensive display, which was very good as Antonio Valencia and Daley Blind shut down the flanks and Daniel Sturridge was a virtual spectator up front, we’ve seen this so many times before.

Remember two years ago at Anfield when Mourinho’s Chelsea side sat back and beat Liverpool 2-0 with two counter attacks (aided by that slip from Steven Gerrard)? Yep, we all remember Mourinho pounding his chest in glee at full time as Chelsea dashed Liverpool’s title hopes.

This was another classic Mourinho away day display as his team sat back, harassed opponents into rushing their play and then waited for one or two chances to pounce. A glorious chance arrived early in the second half in this game as Paul Pogba crossed for Zlatan Ibrahimovic but he should’ve done better with a tame header across goal.

Mourinho admitted Zlatan’s header was “a great chance” but also praised Pogba, and his entire team, for their defensive work.

“I think like everybody else the defensive side of the game I think it was perfect, even the goalkeeper who was on holiday for 90 minutes. He had two big saves to do and he did,” Mourinho said. “When we recovered the ball I was expecting the team to be more dangerous in spite of us having a couple of dangerous chances.”

There was no doubt that Ander Herrera was United’s man of the match. He epitomized this stingy defensive display, if not walking a fine line with some of his fouls, especially in the first half. The Spanish midfielder was the key man in midfield, clogging things up and stopping Philippe Coutinho, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino getting on the ball.

ProSoccerTalk asked Mourinho for his thoughts on Herrera.

“Ander played well but he was surrounded by people who played well. Fellaini played well. Ashley Young played well. Marcus Rashford played well. We closed the sides so well,” Mourinho told ProSoccerTalk. “Ander was completely on the job on Coutinho. He played very well, recovered a lot of balls, gave always a way to get out of their pressing and was very calm in possession.”

So, with United only having 35 percent of the play (Mourinho later came back into the press room to argue his side had 42 percent of the ball) and seemingly focused more on restricting Liverpool than attacking, is this a style we will see deployed by United away from home under Mourinho? He didn’t miss a chance to have another subtle dig at Liverpool.

“You have to be critical of Liverpool not us,” Mourinho said, sharply. “65 percent possession and two shots is there problem. Not our problem.”

Same old Mourinho. Then again, what did we expect?

Watch Live: Sheffield United v. Crystal Palace

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Sheffield United host Crystal Palace at Bramall Lane on Sunrday (Watch live, 9 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as the Blades fans will enjoy their first home game back in the Premier League.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE

Chris Wilder, the lifelong United fan who is now their manager, will be emotional and fans of the Yorkshire club will create a heated atmosphere for opponents to visit this season.

In team news Sheffield United are unchanged from the team which drew at Bournemouth last week, with club captain Billy Sharp on the bench.

Crystal Palace bring in star man Wilfried Zaha who starts up top


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Zidane says Bale will stay at Real Madrid

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Gareth Bale is staying at Real Madrid.

The Welshman was not wanted by manager Zinedine Zidane, who stated that publicly on many occasions over the summer.

But Bale started and grabbed an assist as 10-man Real beat Celta Vigo 3-1 in their La Liga opener on Saturday and it seems like Zidane is ready to brush all of this Bale talk under the carpet.

“He’s going to stay and we all have to think of that as a positive thing,” Zidane said. “The injury to Eden Hazard was bad luck for us but it didn’t change the plans we had for Bale in this game. Gareth and everyone else here is going to show this shirt the respect it deserves.”

After his move to China broke down at the last minute amid conflicting reports blaming Bale and the club for the collapse of the deal, his future at Real has seemed pretty much dead in the water.

Adding in a serious injury to Marco Asensio and Eden Hazard picking up a knock, and all of a sudden Bale is needed again. But for how long?

He was linked with a loan move to Bayern Munich but Philippe Coutinho moved to Bavaria instead, and Bale wasn’t chased by Premier League clubs during the summer due to his huge wage demands. With the transfer window across many European countries closing at the end of this month, he has run out of options to leave a club where the hierarchy and fans don’t want him.

Bale, 30, is now stuck at Real and he has another three years left on his contract. It will be interesting to see how this plays out for the man who has won four Champions League trophies at Real, yet has become the main villain at the Santiago Bernabeu as fans lambast him for playing golf and not learning to speak Spanish fluently during his six years in Spain.

Ibrahimovic scores twice, 10-man Galaxy ties Sounders 2-2

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Carson, Calif. (AP) Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored in each half and the LA Galaxy tied the Seattle Sounders 2-2 on Saturday night despite playing nearly the entire match down a man.

The Galaxy’s Daniel Steres was sent off in the sixth minute for the denial of obvious goal opportunity.

Ibrahimovic tied it at 1 for the Galaxy (13-11-2) with a header in the 45th minute. In the 65th minute, he was taken down by Kim Kee-hee while going for a header in the area and converted the penalty, making it 2-1 with his 20th goal of the season.

LA defender Jorgen Skjelvik scored an own goal in the 82nd minute when he inadvertently deflected goalkeeper David Bingham’s attempted clearance into the Galaxy net.

Raul Ruidiaz opened the scoring in the 42nd minute for the Sounders (11-8-7). Harry Shipp hustled to round up a loose ball and fed it to an open Ruidiaz, who slotted it home.

MLS Wrap: What we learned

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Three unanswered goals from FC Dallas to earn a draw, a late Jozy Altidore goal and Chicago cruises past Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia Union: Saturday’s early slate of games had it all. Here’s what we learned from the busy action.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Montreal, Dallas split points in six-goal thriller

The Montreal Impact, up 3-0 in the 56th minute, probably thought they had the game in the bag. Dallas said, ‘not so fast.’

With three unanswered goals – one of those in stoppage time – Dallas did the unthinkable, stunning the Impact and flying back home with a point that tastes like three.

Dallas, like practically everyone else in the West this season, is dreaming of cracking into the final seven. Whether that happens or not is yet to be seen. What was palpable on Saturday, however, is that Dallas played with a lot of determination on the road and with all the odds against them.


Chicago gets by Philadelphia with ease

The Philadelphia Union are good but not good enough to beat the Chicago Fire, apparently.

It could have been the league’s well-known parity, or the fact that the Union were on the road, but the Fire were able to squeeze out the three points, winning 2-0 with 10 men. Nicolas Gaitan earned a straight red right before halftime.

The Union, a proven side time and time again this season, alternatively, have questions to answer and a set of defects that were unearth Saturday (including finishing) to polish up on. But as they shown several times this season after suffering loses, they’ll bounce back under Jim Curtin.

The Fire (33 points) sit one point behind Montreal, Toronto and Orlando, while Philadelphia (45 points) remain clear leaders in the Eastern Conference.


 

NYCFC too much for Cincinnati 

NYCFC had quite the showing.

With Valentin Castellanos and Heber recording a brace each, Allan Cruz’s goal stood no chance. City, who are now third in the Eastern Conference with 41 points (one behind Atlanta), are clearly in midseason form, while FC Cincinnati is yet to win under Ron Jans.

With a defense that has allowed 61 goals – like the one above – Jans’ rest of the season is looking bleaker than brighter. But then again, it’s with a team he purely adopted. It worth noting that New York’s attack has produced eight goals in the last three games, so maybe that was the determining factor.

 

 


 

Altidore earns last-minute draw for Toronto

Like in many other instances, it was Altidore to the rescue for Toronto FC.

Its goal No. 10 for the 29-year-old goal, making it his fourth season with double digit goals. Jonathan Osorio, too, pitched in a goal in the 42nd minute. 26 games in, this is exactly when Greg Vanney needs his big-time players to step up.

The Columbus Crew, in contrast, can’t catch a break. Once again the superior team, a lack of finishing and defensive concentration make it three-straight draws for the Caleb Porter’s men. With seven games to go and seven points out of playoff contention, even a late run might not be enough for a postseason regular.