Jose Mourinho felt sorry for his “brother” Aitor Karanka but nevertheless revelled in Manchester United’s pulsating 2-1 win over Middlesbrough.
Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba struck in the final 10 minutes to cancel out Boro captain Grant Leadbitter’s effort and start the New Year’s Eve party at Old Trafford.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic had seen a goal harshly ruled out in the first half, while Pogba and Martial both hit the woodwork.
Mourinho was delighted with the spirit shown by his side, while also crediting Boro for a battling display.
“I feel sorry for them, not just because it’s my brother but also because of the players,” Mourinho told Sky Sports.
“They gave absolutely everything and it’s always very painful to lose in the end but we played so well.
“We created so much. We scored three goals [including Ibrahimovic’s disallowed effort] and we deserved to win the match, so I don’t think we were lucky. Justice arrived minute 86.”
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) 31 December 2016
Referencing Ibrahimovic’s disallowed strike again, Mourinho added: “Honestly, I think with Sir Alex [Ferguson in charge] the result would be 3-1.”
The performance had strong echoes of Ferguson’s reign – the iconic ex-Old Trafford boss watching from the stands as he celebrated his 75th birthday.
A thrilling late comeback potentially sets up a surge up the table in the second half of the season, and Mourinho was delighted with the vintage display.
“It was fantastic,” he added. “You are losing 1-0 with 20 minutes to go, we are not afraid to lose 2-0 or 3-0.
“We go with everything, we play one against one in the back, we go with everything.
“We create chances, the goalkeeper saved, a penalty on Marcus Rashford [not awarded], two goals, fantastic dominance and an amazing spirit.
“The players brought the fans with them. They brought the fans to the game and the last 20 minutes were football that people love to see.”
Karanka also admitted that the fixture had been a testing one, owing to his three seasons with Mourinho as his assistant at Real Madrid.
“It was difficult for both of us because we have an amazing relationship. We both wanted to win,” the Boro boss told BBC Sport.
“I hope they are at the top of the table at the end of the season and we stay in the league.”
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