Here's how Jose Mourinho outwitted Max Allegri on his own patch

Chloe Beresford by Chloe Beresford / 08 November 2018, 13:20

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho almost broke the internet once again when he cupped his ear to Juventus supporters after the final whistle in Turin on Tuesday evening.

His overexcitement was due to his side having scored two late goals to pull off a shock 2-1 victory in a stadium that is normally a real fortress.

“I was insulted for 90 minutes. I came here to do my job, nothing more,” the often controversial boss told Sky Italia in his post-match press conference.

“I didn’t offend anyone at the end, I just made a gesture that I wanted to hear them louder. I probably shouldn’t have done it, and with a cool head I wouldn’t have done it, but with my family insulted, including my Inter family, I reacted like this.”

Whether or not his actions are to be condemned, the Portuguese boss did himself a disservice by detracting from the superb achievements of both himself and his team at the Allianz Stadium.

His substitutions were vital in ensuring his side reversed a 1-0 deficit into an eventual 2-1 victory, late strikes from Juan Mata and courtesy of an Alex Sandro own goal keeping United in contention for a place in the knockout stages.

Several factors make this an even more impressive feat. This was the first time Juve had been beaten in any competition since signing Cristiano Ronaldo at the beginning of the season, and the two goals conceded were the first let in by the Serie A giants in Europe this term.

Manchester United came back to win a game in the Champions League with two goals in the final five minutes of a match for the first time since the famous 1999 final vs Bayern Munich, sending the vocal travelling supporters into sheer delirium.

After a shockingly uncompetitive performance just two weeks ago at Old Trafford, the home side had looked light years behind Juve, yet Mourinho had managed to turn things around.

A lacklustre and standoffish performance in the first match was turned around completely, a 0-0 scoreline at half-time the result of a tight 45 minutes from the visitors and some woeful finishing from the Bianconeri.

In Turin, Ronaldo scored one of the most stunning individual goals to grace a football pitch and it seemed like it was game over once again. On 83 minutes, Max Allegri made his usual move to shut up shop with the introduction of veteran defender Andrea Barzagli, however this time Mourinho had already made a move to outsmart him.

Introducing Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini for Ander Herrera and Alexis Sanchez just four minutes earlier had given United an extra attacking edge, and Juve’s reshuffled backline could do little about it.

It was Mata who smashed home a free-kick to level the scores on 86 minutes, and fellow sub Fellaini was causing all sorts of problems with the height advantage created by bringing him onto the pitch in place of Sanchez. The Belgian would create chaos in the box with his flick-on from another free-kick, the resulting melee in the box seeing Sandro concede an own-goal.

There was no doubt that Mourinho was determined to cause Juve more problems this time around, and it certainly showed in the final result. The normally excellent Allegri had been outwitted on his own patch, and on this occasion his own complacency was to blame.

Excluding attacking players such as Federico Bernardeschi and Douglas Costa from the squad to ensure their readiness for a tough clash away to AC Milan on Sunday meant that the tactician had very few options on the bench in order to change the game. Bringing on Barzagli at only 1-0 up to an opponent with very obvious European pedigree was a mistake, even if the result itself does not affect their prospects of qualification with nine points already in the bag.

“Nonetheless, we are still top of the group,” the Juve boss declared to reporters after the match.

“It’s understandable to have a win and a defeat to Manchester United, although probably not when you look at how the games actually went. I think it’ll do us good in the long run, as we need to learn not to fall asleep in these situations.”

The truth is that the signs of poor form for Juventus have been there for all to see in their last three league matches, mistakes in games at home to both Genoa and Cagliari disguised by taking four points from those clashes, and they might have lost away to Empoli if it weren’t for some more brilliance from Ronaldo.

While the manner in which the Bianconeri won at Old Trafford made those across Europe sit up and take notice of their genuine ability to win the competition this year, the defeat in Turin will have made those same people think perhaps they were mistaken in thinking so.

Allegri has won the last four consecutive league-and-cup doubles in Italy, so now’s the time for him to expand his thinking beyond what lies on the peninsula.

In the meantime, Mourinho is probably still grinning from ear to ear at a result that simply cannot be underestimated for his Manchester United team.

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