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Mourinho on Anderlecht draw: “We have to kill matches”

Manchester United drew 1-1 with Anderlecht in the quarter-final first leg in the UEFA Europa League in Belgium on Thursday evening. Henrikh Mkhitaryan opened the scoring in the 36th minute of the match with United in the driving seat throughout the game. Anderlecht, despite their pressuring, did not really threaten until they scored the equaliser in the final minutes of the match with their first shot on target. United were perhaps lucky to get the away goal they needed, but it will be a fraught affair at Old Trafford in a weeks time with Jose Mourinho’s side looking to earn a semi-final place in the Europa League in their quest to reach the UEFA Champions League next season from the European competition.

Michael Carrick was bitterly disappointed with the draw and the failure of his side to kill their opposition off. Carrick, speaking to BT Sport, said:

“We were so in control but got sloppy, we have to kill teams off. We should have won that game. It’s that little edge that makes the difference in the end, but we’ll look forward to the next game.”

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho was also unhappy with his team’s inability to kill Anderlecht off during the match, which saw their only shot on target reward them with the equaliser. Speaking to BT Sport, Mourinho said:

“We have to kill matches. We had chances, we had control, but in one mistake we were punished. We start the game at Old Trafford in front, but we had all the conditions to kill the game.” 

Marouane Fellaini, frustrated with the result, spoke about the second change United have to win the game at Old Trafford in a weeks time. Speaking to MUTV, the Belgian said:

“Of course we are frustrated with the result. We had the chance to win the game and the chances to score more goals, but we didn’t and they came back into it in the last four minutes. We’re disappointed but we have another game to make it to the semi-final.”

Mourinho on United’s positive result, which could have been so much better:

“The result is positive – to play at home with an advantage, to start the game with an advantage, it is a good result but I think the result should be much better. We can only blame ourselves because we had an easy game to play in the second half and we didn’t play in attack with that instinct. We lost the ball easily too many times, we stopped our counter-attacks because of sloppy decisions, sloppy touches of the ball and then we gave them opportunity to have some counter-attacks. But luckily our defenders were very much in the game and they resolved all of these problems. But if I were a Manchester United defender I would be very upset with the attacking players because they have to kill the game and they didn’t.”

Mourinho in-depth about Manchester United needing to kill off their opposition:

“We have to kill matches. We had chances, control, but we don’t score goals; we risk. There was lots of space to kill, good chances. Lots of chances that we don’t get because of a bad touch, sloppy touch, a flick, bad decisions in the last third. There was a team with good organisation at the back, but one mistake and we were punished.

“In my poor English I cannot find a better word [than sloppy]. You have to play more seriously. Put the performance of two or three of our attacking players together and you squeeze not much juice out of it. Rashford, Lingard, Ibrahimovic, Martial. They were very similar. But the people behind: very solid, very focused. The defenders did the serious work but the people who had to kill the game didn’t. We start the game at Old Trafford in front, but we had all the conditions to kill the game.”

Mourinho on United’s strong defensive performances:

“It was a strong performance from the team, the defensive part. Lingard and Rashford, they did defensively what we asked them to do; they covered some space but when the team is broken on the counter-attack, we cannot lose so many balls. We didn’t miss so many chances; it was about half-chances and chances where the space is there and the time is there but these moments, sometimes we play two-touch not one-touch and lose the ball. Another time one-touch not two-touch. The decisions were wrong. Probably the only one that everything was correct, with the timings, touches and decisions, was Paul’s shot and that was a good save by the keeper. Obviously, this is what happens all season. We have chances but don’t score enough goals.”

Manchester United go head-to-head with Chelsea at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Sunday, which will be the third and final match between the two teams this season. United had lost both previous matches, the 4-0 defeat in the league and the 1-0 defeat in the Emirates FA Cup, which will be twelve games in a row where United have failed to beat their London opposition. After two defeats this season and three points meaning the world to United and probably Tottenham Hotspur, Jose Mourinho’s side must be up for the challenge of causing Antonio Conte’s champions elect some damage in their bid for their fourth Premier League crown, with Spurs the only likely challengers at this moment in time.

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