ReutersTURIN (Reuters) — Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho defended his taunting of Juventus supporters after his side’s sensational late revival that saw it grab a 2-1 win over the Italians and boost its chances of reaching the knockout stages of the Champions League.
Former United player Cristiano Ronaldo had given Juventus a deserved lead in the second half on Wednesday, but despite being outplayed for almost the entire game, United struck back with a free kick from Juan Mata in the 86th minute and a scrappy own goal in stoppage time that UEFA credited to Leonardo Bonucci.
“If you understand Italian you will know that I was insulted by them for 90 minutes. I didn’t offend anyone, I just made a gesture to tell them that I wanted to hear them louder,” Mourinho told reporters after cupping his ear to the home fans at the final whistle, prompting a cascade of howling whistles.
“I probably shouldn’t have done it, and with a cool head I wouldn’t have. But with my family insulted, including my Inter Milan family, I reacted like this.”
Mourinho’s reaction came on the day that the English Football Association (F.A.) said it would appeal against a decision that saw him escape punishment for an alleged foul-mouthed outburst in Portuguese in front of television cameras following his side’s 3-2 win over Newcastle last month.
An independent regulatory commission had cleared Mourinho of the charge on Oct. 31 after consulting language experts.
When quizzed in a postgame interview with BT Sport about what had prompted his gesture to the Juventus fans and animated confrontation with some of their players after the game, Mourinho appeared to send a thinly veiled message to English soccer’s organizing body.
“Do you understand Italian? Then maybe ask the F.A. to translate for you,” he said.
Despite Juventus hitting the woodwork twice and David de Gea making a string of great saves, Mourinho said he was pleased with his side’s performance after the team had been outplayed and beaten 1-0 by Juve two weeks previously at Old Trafford.
“It is a fantastic victory for us, a victory that is not just about the points we lost at home. It is about the feeling of how well we played,” he said.
“And I think even if this game doesn’t end with victory I would have the same feeling, that the team played really, really well from the first minute against — I repeat — a super team.”
The thrilling finale in Turin is the latest in a series of epic turnaround victories for United, which beat Bournemouth 2-1 with an added-time goal from Marcus Rashford on Saturday and also rallied late to beat Newcastle in October.
The comeback victory, the sort of escape act for which it became renowned under Sir Alex Ferguson, sets United up nicely for Sunday’s local derby against Premier League leader Manchester City.
Benzema brace boosts Real
PLZEN, Czech Republic (Reuters) — Real Madrid took a huge step towards clinching a spot in the Champions League knockout stage with a 5-0 rout of Viktoria Plzen as Karim Benzema scored two of four first-half goals for the Spanish giant.
In temporary coach Santiago Solari’s first Champions League game in charge, Real began slowly but was out of sight before halftime after a clinical masterclass of finishing.
The victory also marked Real’s third in a row in all competitions under its temporary coach, who said he was focused on the next game rather than his status at the club.