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Sunday, December 10, 2017

José Mourinho admits title race is all but over after Manchester City defeat

 *Coach says rivals are ‘protected by the football gods’ after penalty incident 
 *Pep Guardiola: ‘We won because we were better in every department’

‘I think they are a very good team, they are lucky, they have decisions in their favour’ said José Mourinho of Manchester City. Photograph: John Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images

José Mourinho all but admitted defeat in the Premier League title race after watching Manchester United fall 11 points behind a Manchester City team he described as being “protected by the luck” and helped on their way to the championship because “the gods of football are behind them”.
Mourinho’s backhanded compliments came after a 2-1 victory for Pep Guardiola’s side at Old Trafford that left the United manager complaining at length that Ander Herrera should have been awarded a penalty in the second-half incident that led to the midfielder being booked for diving.

“I think they are a very good team, they are lucky, they have decisions in their favour,” Mourinho said. “My first reaction is that I feel sorry for Michael Oliver. The referee is a human being and he tried his best. He was very committed to have a good match, which I think he had, but made one mistake, which was a crucial mistake.”
Asked whether the title race was now over, Mourinho said: “Probably, yes. Manchester City are a very good team and they are protected by the luck, and the gods of football are behind them.”
Guardiola’s view was that it was still too early for him to say the same but City have now won 14 league fixtures in a row and the victorious manager, praising his team for taking on the Barcelona approach of football, dismissed Mourinho’s complaints about the penalty incident. It was, according to the City manager, just more of the usual from Mourinho and something to which he was wholly accustomed from their time as rival managers in Spain.
“We won because we were better in every department,” Guardiola said. “Last season it was the same – we won here and it [for Mourinho] was the referee. Today as well. Yesterday he spoke about the referee. We are an honest team. When a team has the courage to have 65 to 70 or 75% ball-possession it is because it wants to try to play and that is what we have done. We are clear, we are open and we want to attack.
“People said we could not play this way in England. They said we couldn’t play the way we did in Barcelona but it is possible and we did it. Always I believed we could do it. That’s why football is so beautiful.
“I’m happy to go to Stamford Bridge and now Old Trafford and to beat them in this way. But we are still in December. If we have 11 points [as a lead] when we play the second derby in April then maybe I will tell you that we have the title.
“This win means a lot in the way we played for our confidence but in three days we go to Swansea in the winter time. We are going to face a lot of difficulties. In December it’s impossible to be champions but it is good for us.”
Play Video
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 'We won because we were better in all departments,' says Pep Guardiola – video
Guardiola, the former Barcelona head coach, also responded to Mourinho’s pre-match remarks that City players can be guilty of diving – “It’s not true that my players go down easily, that is not an argument I believe” – and promised to keep wearing his yellow ribbon in support of the two Catalan politicians who were jailed during the region’s fight for independence last month.
The only downside for City was another injury to Vincent Kompany. “Vinnie is always like this,” Guardiola said. “Unfortunately we can’t count on him for a long time.”

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