Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho: We were calm and knew it would be difficult to lose FA Cup semi-final with Spurs
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The Red Devils manager reflected on Saturday’s triumph over Tottenham Hotspur and praised the quality of the match at the national stadium
Jose Mourinho admitted his Manchester United players sensed they ‘couldn’t lose’ Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final with Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley Stadium.
It proved to be correct in the end as Ander Herrera’s 62nd-minute goal decided the contest and sent the Red Devils through to the final on May 19 following a 2-1 win.
Dele Alli put Spurs ahead after 10 minutes, but Alexis Sanchez equalised 14 minutes later and it remained 1-1 until half time.
Tottenham started the second period on the front foot, but after conceding a second they struggled to break down Mourinho’s organised team.
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After the victory, he said: “Yes I’m pleased with the result and performance. I think the players deserved this and when you deserve it against a team like Spurs it is even more important.
“The game was very good. For the game to be good you need three good teams and I think we had three very good teams (United, Spurs and officials).
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“The interesting thing was both teams tried to start very strong and very aggressive and Spurs were better than us and scored and we had a period where we lost a little bit of control in midfield.
“But then we had a good reaction, we had good football and scored a good goal and in the second half we had a good brain, good organisation and we were very confident and calm.
“I think we were very much in control even when Spurs had the ball, so the second half was quite calm because we had a feeling ‘it was going to be very difficult to lose the game and most probably we would win it.’”
While United were confident of success once they took the lead, Tottenham appeared to feel the opposite once they went behind.
Although they pushed for a way back into the match, the only efforts of note they had to show for their endeavour was an off target header from Victor Wanyama and Christian Eriksen’s long-range effort.
It was a disappointing response from a team which has long been criticised for its lack of success in terms of silverware.
Now Tottenham’s quest for another trophy will extend into an 11th-year with their last glory a League Cup triumph back in 2008.
For United, they will look to secure a second-placed finish and if they do, it would have been a ‘good’ campaign for them.
Mourinho added: “The season is successful if we finish second. If we finish second with 81 points and have a better Premier League than Spurs, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal then it is successful.
“81 points breaks the 80-point target and to finish second to an untouchable winner (Man City) is good and to make more points, score more goals, win more, concede less goals and have much better results against the top teams is a successful season.
“Now the final is the final and obviously we have to try to win it, but it is not down to one game whether a player is good or bad or whether a team is good or bad or a manager is good or bad or a season is good or bad.”
The comments from Mourinho are relevant to Tottenham too. Just because they have not won silverware again doesn’t make this a bad season.
What would make it a disappointing and poor campaign would be if they were to now miss out on the top four.
As things stand they hold a big advantage over Chelsea in the battle for Champions League qualification, but they must respond positively to this painful defeat.