‘Mourinho has last laugh as Man United cancel out Ronaldo screamer’
Jose Mourinho could not help himself at the final whistle. And who could blame him?
He had just seen his Manchester United side complete a dramatic late smash-and-grab raid to come from behind to beat the mighty Juventus, and he was determined to milk the moment.
Mourinho , who endured abuse from Juve fans in the first game at Old Trafford because of his link with their arch-rivals Inter, strode onto the pitch at the final whistle, cupping his ear sarcastically towards the home fans who booed him.
The United boss had responded to the taunts of Juve fans at Old Trafford by holding up three fingers to denote the Treble he won at Inter, and here he was at it again, unable to help himself after such a seismic win.
Mourinho was headed off on the pitch by Juve defender Leonardo Bonucci, who remonstrated with him for his inflammatory actions, with United security staff rushing on to escort their boss down the tunnel as tensions ran high.
Such a win had seemed unlikely 25 minutes earlier, when Cristiano Ronaldo produced a typically breathtaking moment of magic against his former club to put the Serie A leaders ahead with a majestic volleyed finish.
But United, as they have done in recent weeks, against Newcastle and Bournemouth, produced a stirring finish to leave their opponents floored with two late goals, which condemned Juve to a shock first defeat of the season.
Juan Mata was first to strike in the 86th minute, the second-half substitute curling a sublime free-kick into net, before Alex Sandro turned an Ashley Young free-kick into his own net under pressure from Paul Pogba.
It was a crazy end to a game in which United had acquitted themselves well but looked to have been undone by one piece of individual brilliance from Ronaldo, until they produced a finale reminiscent of Sir Alex Ferguson’s famous swathe of late wins.
Even at the ripe old age of 33, with his glittering career supposedly on the wane, Ronaldo remains capable of producing moments of breathtaking brilliance, as he did here.
His stunning volleyed finish was a thing of beauty, but not enough to put Juventus through to the last 16, with United’s late comeback meaning the Italians will have to wait to confirm their place in the knockout stage.
With Valencia having beaten Young Boys 3-1 in the earlier kick-off, it meant United kicked off in third place in Group H, putting the Reds under pressure to get a result in Turin.
Juventus had lost just one of their last 35 Champions League home games in the group stage since being beaten 3-0 by United in 2003, and with 13 victories and one draw from their opening 14 games of the season, the Reds faced an unenviable task.
But United, who have turned a corner after a dismal start to their third season under Mourinho, somehow managed to turn the game in their favour and emerge victorious at the end.
United were on high alert throughout the game, not least in the 20th minute when Leonardo Bonucci’s ball was flicked on by Ronaldo to intended target Sami Khedira, with Victor Lindelof on hand to clear the danger.
United’s best moment of the first-half came just before the half-hour mark when Matic clipped the ball over the top of the Juve defence for Sanchez, but the delivery had too much pace on it and ran away from him.
David De Gea had to be alert in the 34th minute when a cross from Juan Cuadrado took a deflection which sent it spinning goalwards, the United keeper doing well to dive down to his right and palm the ball away.
Juve built on that opening and should have taken the lead a minute later when Khedria found himself unmarked just outside the six-yard box but saw his effort hit a post, with United able to clear the ball and recover.
The home side continued where they left off after the restart, with Paulo Dybala executing a fine curling left-foot effort which left De Gea rooted to the spot but bounced off the bar.
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There seemed little danger when Bonucci clipped the ball over the top in the 65th minute, but when Ronaldo peeled off Lindelof, the United defender knew he was in trouble.
Ronaldo kept his eye on the ball as it dropped into his path and then dispatched a volleyed finish of ruthless elegance that left De Gea with no chance.
With one moment of individual brilliance, Ronaldo undid all the fine work United – and Lindelof in particular – had done to keep Juventus at bay.
Juan Cuadrado should have made it 2-0 and killed the game in the 74th minute, but scooped his shot over.
It proved a costly miss as United staged their dramatic late comeback, which could not have been timed better with Sunday’s derby showdown at local rivals Manchester City.
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