Istanbul: Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has blamed his players for their defeat against Fenerbahce in a Europa League group match here, saying the former European champions deserved to lose.

Mourinho said his team had treated Thursday’s group tie as a summer friendly and as a result they were beaten 1-2 by Fenerbahce here.

Fenerbahce scored two stunning goals to beat United and leave Mourinho’s side in danger of Europa League elimination.

Striker Moussa Sow gave Fenerbahce a vital lead in the 69th second of the game with an overhead kick and then Jeremain Lens curled in a free kick in the 58th minute to make it 2-0.

For United, Captain Wayne Rooney netted a 25-yard consolation goal later on.

With this defeat, the Red Devils dropped to third place in Group A of the Europa League.

“They were playing a Champions League final and we were playing a summer friendly by the way the game started. After their second goal we reacted and could have got a different result but I didn’t feel we deserved more as over the 90 minutes we didn’t play well enough. We didn’t fully play to our maximum,” Mourinho was quoted as saying by the Guardian newspaper.

“They deserved to win. Football is not just about quality – it is about effort and commitment, it is about playing to your limits. In an atmosphere like this, to concede an early goal gives the opposition exactly what they want.

“The opponent can then defend and counterattack us with a lead and that is our fault for letting them be in that situation. We are not scoring goals, that’s the reality, but we produced, we create. We had enough chances. We had great positions to score, headers not going in direction of the ball, bad passes in the final third, shots that could hit the target and didn’t,” he added.

Mourinho also spoke about the injuries to centre-backs Eric Bailly and Chris Smalling, saying the lack of combination between their replacements Daley Blind and Marcos Rojo hampered the team.

“It is difficult to cope, having to play with two left-backs at centre-back. This makes it tough to cope with the physicality of the game,” the United manager said.

“I know we have a problem and especially away from home — it’s difficult to play without two proper central defenders. Football starts with a goalkeeper and two strong central defenders. We are playing with two left-backs and Blind is having to play central defender on the right side (which hampered him even more),” he added.

Commenting on their qualification hopes, Mourinho said: “We don’t depend on the others, we depend on ourselves. If we win both games we qualify. Even with four points we could qualify, since Feyenoord play Fenerbahce and both sides cannot get maximum points.”

 

First Published | 4 November 2016 4:31 PM
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