Mourinho smashes water bottles in emotional celebration as Marouane Fellaini saves Man Utd with late winner

When finally Manchester United scored, Jose Mourinho turned away to pick up his players’ basket of water bottles and smash them into the ground - like an old rocker whose guitar has to pay for the sheer adrenaline of the performance, no matter the effort expended in doing so.

Rarely will a Marouane Fellaini injury-time winner evoke such strong emotions, but then this was a night when it felt like the writing was on the wall for Manchester United, drifting to a draw against one of the weakest teams in the Champions League. By the end the gameplan had been torn up and put together more than once by their manager, the crowd were going home and Paul Scholes was waiting in the BT Sport studio to deliver his verdict on the whole mess.

This strange United team of late 2018 - of a dozen different line-ups, of changing shapes throughout the game - at least never stops trying, partly because it seems they, above all, cannot bear to go back to the changing room and confront Mourinho in his blackest mood. So as time ticked on, they frantically launched the ball into Fellaini and Romelu Lukaku and on this occasion, it has to be said, the crudest of plans worked.

For those left in Old Trafford by the end there was a Fergie-time finish to a forgettable evening that sees United through to the Champions League knockout round in what will surely be second place behind Juventus. It did not, nonetheless, change Scholes’ view of the evening. “I thought they were awful tonight,” he said as the dust settled on a 93rd minute winner. “I thought they were terrible, second half especially.”

It could have been worse for Mourinho, still spinning after that defeat to Manchester City and the draw with Crystal Palace, and having dropped some of his biggest names for the line-up to try to generate fresh momentum. He came into his post-match press conference scrolling through his phone and later railed at his “lovers” – a word not to be taken at face value – in reference to the pundits’ criticism of him for his disconsolate reaction to a first half Marcus Rashford miss.

There was a finger-wagging reminder of what he has done in this competition, 14 seasons in the Champions League and not once has he failed to reach the second round – “and the two seasons I was in the Europa League I won it”. He painted a picture of a team that had never expected to have to win the match in the last moments although that is what happened against a Young Boys side missing some of their key players, injured or suspended.

Mourinho first tried to win this game without the two most expensive signings in the club’s history, and then when that did not work he tried to do so with them on the pitch. Paul Pogba and Lukaku started on the bench, although they later came on as United sought the winning goal. Alexis Sanchez was not even in the squad and while Mourinho confirmed the Chilean was fit he refused to get into a discussion of those who were omitted.

Rashford had not scored the goals his manager had hoped for, but he had changed the nature of United’s attack, so often orbiting around a much less mobile Lukaku. “We don't score enough goals but it is not about Marcus, it’s about us as a team,” Mourinho conceded. “It is very difficult for us to score goals but Marcus makes the movement, makes the runs, works hard - when the team has the ball and doesn't have the ball.”

At issue was Mourinho’s reaction to a Rashford miss in the fifth minute, the first part of the touchline theatre that had attracted comment before it ended with the smashing of the bottles after the goal. After that early miss, Mourinho turned to face the stand with his arms outstretched and his palms turned up as if in appeal against his own misfortune. Then he folded his arms in the gesture universally recognised as sulking for the benefit of the television cameras.

What followed was the textbook Mourinho Champions League night row, with Gary Lineker leading the chorus of disapproval for his treatment of young players and the inevitable response about former players who do not manage. “I would invite people to sit on the bench as managers, but I think maybe is better to have lots of holidays in Barbados and go on TV,” Mourinho said. He was talking, lest anyone be in any doubt, about the pundits. “A proper football manager would not criticise another one [for showing emotion]. For the ones with a nice life is different.”

So many rows, so few goals. Mourinho conceded that the late win was built on a magnificent second half save from David De Gea which prefaced a frantic final few minutes when both sides were stretched and out of shape. Young Boys had defended tenaciously and got close to what would have been a famous result. For United, Fellaini’s late winner was their first goal at Old Trafford in three Champions League games this season.

It was a good night for Shaw, whose determination to get on with the hunt for the winning goal caused him to shove the slow-moving Jean-Pierre Nsame off the pitch when the Young Boys striker embarked on a very slow second-half substitution. Rashford’s running in the first half created a number of half-chances including that one in the fifth minute that provoked the reaction in Mourinho, when he failed to chip the Young Boys goalkeeper David von Ballmoos.

The second half save from De Gea was magnificent, a ball that was deflected off the enterprising Young Boys right back Kevin Mbabu and having been loose in the box was on its way into the corner. De Gea got himself across and down with a right hand behind the ball and scooped it out.

First Pogba and Lukaku came on for Fred and Lingard and then eventually Juan Mata in place of Antonio Valencia. It was an odd United team left: Fellaini as a deep-lying midfielder, Nemanja Matic as a centre-back, and four in attack. Fellaini was in the area at the right time to bring down the flick-on from Lukaku, turn the full-back Loris Benito and wrong foot Von Ballmoos with his shot. Fellaini seemed to seek out Mourinho in his celebrations, although his manager was already immersed in celebrations of his own.

Jose Mourinho post-match
"Yeh I know. That's good, very difficult group, to qualify with one match is obviously good. The performance had lots of good things but lots of disappointing things. This is the kind of game if you score in the first minute you go for a different kind of performance. You could pay with not just a defeat. David's save, the only save in the game, was phenomenal, only the best goalkeeper in the world can save.

"More than one chance. We had what I call half chances a lot, when the winger has the ball and 20 metres to attack but has the fear of the penalty from the defender he has to go by him. We can't blame one player.

"The most important thing is a goal. Of course I'm happy with the intensity the boys put in, it's not difficult to cope with the pressure of a result that doesn't suit us. Some of my lovers, for the ones who like stats, 14 seasons in the Champions League, 14 times past the group stages, never left behind. The one season I wasn't I won the Europa League."

That's a good record Jose.

News Category: