TURIN, Italy (AFP) – Jose Mourinho hailed a “fantastic victory” after Manchester United stole the thunder of Cristiano Ronaldo and a dominant Juventus with a 2-1 win in the Champions League early yesterday.
A jubilant Mourinho made the most of the last-gasp victory, going onto the pitch at full-time and cupping his ear to jeers from the crowd, who had earlier cheered former Juventus player Paul Pogba on his return to Turin.
Juventus players Leonardo Bonucci and Paulo Dybala confronted Mourinho with United captain Ashley Young intervening as Mourinho was led off the pitch by a UEFA official.
“They insulted me for 90 minutes. I came here to do my job, nothing more,” said former Inter Milan coach Mourinho.
“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, with a cool head I wouldn’t have.”
Ronaldo’s superb volley – his first European goal for Juventus – had put the Italian champions in control after 65 minutes, two weeks after Dybala scored in the only goal at Old Trafford.
But substitute Juan Mata’s free-kick on 86 minutes sparked a stunning revival that breathed new life into the visitors’ Champions League campaign.
Juve were then left in shock as Ashley Young’s free-kick from the left bounced in off a combination of Bonucci and Alex Sandro after a frantic scramble in front of goal.
It left Mourinho’s side just two points behind leaders Juventus with two matches to play in Group H.
“It’s a fantastic victory for us, a victory that is not just about the points we lost at home but the feeling of how well we played,” said Mourinho.
“And I think even if this game hadn’t ended with victory I would have the same feeling that the team played really, really well from the first minute against a super team.”
Juventus had dominated the match for long periods with Sami Khedira and Dybala both rattling the woodwork, only for the hosts to get distracted after Ronaldo’s goal.
“We dominated for the 90 minutes. We had two or three clear chances and we should have been able to put the game to bed with ease, but we paid for switching off,” said Ronaldo after his team’s first defeat this season.
“It’s never nice to lose, but maybe this defeat comes at the best possible time. We have a great team, we’re top of the group and I’m sure we’ll go through as group winners.”
Mourinho’s decision to bring on Mata and Marouane Fellaini in place of Ander Herrera and Alexis Sanchez on 79 minutes paid off.
And the Portuguese coach recalled bygone days going back to United’s time under Alex Ferguson.
“Probably when Manchester United had heroics here (in the past) Manchester United was the best team and they (Juventus) are a top team for many years now,” said Mourinho.
“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.”
The victory also gave the United coach optimism before Sunday’s Premier League clash against table-toppers Manchester City at Etihad Stadium.
“We played this season against Chelsea and Juventus away, the two best teams that we face this season and we played very well in both,” said Mourinho.
“Here we were lucky to win in last minute, against Chelsea unlucky not to win in last minute but we played very, very well and this is what we want.
“We want to play well, we want to go to every stadium, and it doesn’t matter the team.
“I want the feeling (that) it doesn’t matter where we go, we go to compete and this is the feeling the Manchester United supporters around the world want.”