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Manchester United win at Juventus offers glorious reminder of Jose Mourinho’s ability at the highest level

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 8/11/2018 James Robson
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While Cristiano Ronaldo claimed Manchester United were lucky to avoid a hammering in Turin, Jose Mourinho was left to bask in a throwback win that was a reminder of his game-changing abilities at the highest level.

Ronaldo did not try to hide his frustrations after seeing his former side stun Juventus with a late show to secure a 2-1 win .

His stunning volley looked to have settled the Champions League Group H tie, only for two goals in the last five minutes to turn the game on its head.

The Portuguese forward insisted set pieces were the only reason United left Italy with a victory that puts them on the verge of qualification to the knockout stages, with Juan Mata scoring directly from a free kick and Alex Sandro firing into his own net after dead ball from Ashley Young in the 89th minute.

But Mourinho was left to revel in the impact of his substitutions when the game looked lost - Mata, Marcus Rashford and Marouane Fellaini, posing questions Juve coach Max Allegri could not answer.

Ronaldo said: “We are a little disappointed because we should have won the game easily, by three or four goals.

“Manchester, they didn’t do much in my opinion. They created two chances, set pieces. I know the English teams, they are always looking for the set pieces.

“But we learned from our mistakes and we are still top of the group so we are good.”

David de Gea produced outstanding saves in each half to deny Juve, who also hit the woodwork twice before Ronaldo’s 65th-minute strike.

Mourinho sent on Fellaini in a bid to rescue the game as he went for a more direct approach, and hailed the Belgian’s game-changing impact.

While Ronaldo dismissed United’s ability to create from open play, Mourinho detailed the effect of his in-game management, which inspired a remarkable comeback against the side he believes are ‘super favourites’ to win the Champions League.

“I think he was important to make the team alive again,” he said. “When you concede the goal the team had a period of, by a psychological point of view, we went down a little bit and Juventus was finally in control and was finally dangerous in the counter attack.

“Fellaini gave us an option to be alive again by playing direct by bringing the game again to the last third and by being in last third was giving us the chance to create situations like we did. We start winning first balls in the air.

“Massimiliano had to react, had to bring (Andrea) Barzagli and when he brings Barzagli, (Juan) Cuadrado goes out and their counter-attack is less dangerous because they are trying to control.

“Then we create, we create a Rashford shot I thought was a goal and the free-kick Mata scored beautifully and that lateral free-kick that I don't know who scored, but all I know is we just put the ball in the net.”

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Photo: REUTERS

Mourinho accepted United were fortunate to take all three points – but was left to assess another hugely encouraging display in what further evidence that he is turning his side’s fortunes around.

“Probably when Manchester United had heroics here (in the past) Manchester United was best team,”he said. “They (Juve) are a top team for many years now.

“They bought that player (Ronaldo), they want to win everything, they can win everything and we are a team where many of the players didn't play big matches like this in the Champions League.

“So it is a difficult situation, but is a fantastic victory for us, a victory that is not just about the points we lost at home, but is about the feeling of how well we played.

“And I think even if this game doesn't end with victory I would have the same feeling that the team played really, really well from the first minute against - I repeat - a super team.”

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