In what proved one of the most anticipated Manchester derbies of recent years, it was the blue side of the city that emerged victorious in a classic clash.
With Jose Mourinho’s relationship with Pep Guardiola providing a tasty subplot also, the fixture certainly lived up to the billing. In addition, in typical style, the Portuguese has ensured he hasn’t dodged the back pages.
In fact, despite being on the losing side at Old Trafford, the Special One didn’t hold back in a cold post-match interview. It’s clear that two refereeing decisions in particular had left Mourinho’s blood boiling.
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Despite many tipping United as favourites given their home advantage, the Red Devils simply didn’t turn up for the first 40 minutes of their derby clash.
In a ruthless start to the game, Guardiola’s men exerted an impressive albeit surprising stranglehold on the fixture. Goals from Kevin de Bruyne and Kelechi Iheanacho ensured the rampant spell wasn’t in vein.
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Nevertheless, United clawed their way back into the game when Claudio Bravo’s debut gaffe presented Zlatan Ibrahimovic with his fifth goal of the season.
A thoroughly entertaining second half followed, but City hung onto the three points despite a few shaky moments. After all the build-up, it was Guardiola who left the Theatre of Dreams with an overnight spot at the top of the table.
However, Mourinho isn’t one to take defeat lightly. The 53-year-old certainly wasn’t in the mood to change old habits after this particular loss and turned his attention to the referee in proceeding interviews.
The Special One cited two penalty appeals that he felt should have gone in United’s favour, but were dismissed by Mark Clattenburg.
The first of which proved an erratic tackle on Wayne Rooney by Bravo who, at the time, was watching his debut go down in flames around him. However, in this case he got away with, rather ironically for Joe Hart, a poor footwork error.
Bravo’s tackle, which Mourinho believes should have prompted a spot kick, can be seen below:
After the game, the Portuguese stated: “I know the rules of the game. It's obvious that it's a penalty and a red card for Bravo. If it's outside the box, it's a direct free kick and a red card.
“Inside the box it has to be the same. Even the best referees can make mistakes, and he made a big one.
“It's a big possibility of 2-2 with a long time to go, and we're talking about a completely different story.”
Manchester United’s boss also felt aggrieved with what appeared a minor claim of an alleged handball from Nicolas Otamendi. Given how close the Argentinian was to Antonio Valencia’s cross, it proves a far flimsier argument.
That being said, the ball did come in contact with the arm and penalties have been given for far subtler instances.
As for this incident, Mourinho took the following stance: 'The second penalty is Otamendi's handball. Some of you will say it's not a penalty. I say 100 per cent. Otamendi tries to stop the cross in the face of the goal, but the cross comes behind him. He knows and he brings the second arm back. Clear penalty.”
So, while the Special One may have a case over the first penalty appeal, his second protest proves something of a desperate claim. Nevertheless, it’s clear to see Mourinho’s frustration over a loss which at times saw United well below par.
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