Juventus left the door open for Manchester United to win its UEFA Champions League group by losing to Young Boys on Wednesday in Switzerland, but Jose Mourinho’s Red Devils waited too long to walk through it.
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United’s slow start in Spain allowed Valencia to build a two-goal lead, and only Marcus Rashford found the back of the net in a 2-1 loss that sends United into the unseeded group for the UCL Round of 16 draw.
So why does Mourinho sound happy with the outcome? And how can he consider it mission accomplished for the stage? From the BBC:
“Tonight it is job done in a difficult group, I don’t think we were brilliant in this group phase, but with the problems we had and the injuries we had we managed to come here already qualified.”
Sure, you went through, but the only way to rationalize the loss as okay is by noting that a Premier League match with rivals Liverpool is at the weekend and Mourinho may’ve been keeping aces up his sleeve.
Mourinho was sure to pour cold water on that excuse, criticizing a reporter who asked about Sunday’s league match. He simply thinks his men didn’t come out of the gates well (again).
“I made the two changes later and the team improved immediately,” Mourinho said. “We started playing faster, arriving with link play in more dangerous positions, and we probably should get to 2-2 because we had a couple of good chances to equalize. But we started the first half playing too comfortable and not with enough intensity.”
Content to finish second? Hardly an enjoyable sentiment for most United supporters.