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Mourinho: 'The best team lost'
by Paul Kennedy, March 5th, 2013 9:52PM

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TAGS:  england, real madrid, referees, uefa champions league

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[UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson was so upset, he couldn't face the media after the game. But his counterpart, Jose Mourinho, was happy to, and he rubbed it in, sort of.

"In my opinion," the Real Madrid coach said, "the best team lost."

Manchester United's 2-1 loss to Real Madrid that knocked it out of the UEFA Champions League is a game they'll be talking about for a long time. Specifically, whether Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir should have red carded Nani for the Portuguese winger's challenge on Real defender Alvaro Arbeloa with United leading 1-0 in the second half ...

"I don't think the manager is in any fit state to talk to the referee about the decision," said United assistant Mike Phelan, whom Ferguson sent to the post-game press conference. "It speaks volumes that I am sat here and not the manager of this fantastic football club. We all witnessed a decision that seemed very harsh, possibly incredible at that moment in the game."

Phelan's remarks were actually measured in comparison to many of the British pundits who insisted there was no "intent" on the play -- when "intent" has nothing to do whether a dangerous play warrants a red card.

Perhaps the decision was harsh but it was not outside the realm of possibility. It meant United had to finish the game with 10 men -- and this was a game where the team playing down a man indeed paid the price.

Substitute Luka Modric came on and struck the equalizer with a well-placed shot off the post and three minutes later former United star Cristiano Ronaldo put the Blancos ahead on the evening and two goals ahead, effectively, in terms of the aggregate count.

With getting into the merits of the call, Mourinho said he knows what it's like to fell robbed on a red-card call.

"If somebody can cry [over a harsh red card] then I am the first one," said Mourinho, referring to Pepe's dismissal against Barcelona in the 2011 Champions League semifinal. "My history is not to play against 10, it is to play with 10, and not in the last 16 or quarterfinals but in semifinals. I want to be honest and to be honest is to say that in my opinion the best team lost. But that's football."

Mourinho said the game turned on 10 minutes in the second half.

"When we were against 10 men we played very well for 10 minutes," he said. "We created new problems, with Luka and Kaka behind [Gonzalo] Higuain. That was a new problem for United that they could not solve with 10 men. We deserve credit for that."

The hero for Real Madrid was goalie Diego Lopez, who was signed in the January window from Sevilla after captain Iker Casillas was hurt.

"In Madrid, David de Gea was man of the match," Mourinho said, "and today the man of the match was Diego Lopez."

On Ferguson's controversial decision to drop star Wayne Rooney, Phelan said the move to start Danny Welbeck in Rooney's place was tactical.

"Everybody was fit," he said. "Everybody wanted to play but big decisions have to be made and the manager made those calls. We had the balance just right. We got the tactics right. At 0-0, we were comfortable and where we wanted to be. Then we scored to put ourselves in a commanding position and were in control. Then the game totally changed. It is difficult enough to play a team like Real with 11 men. Now we have a distraught dressing room and a distraught manager. That is why I am sat here. It was a massive occasion, Ryan Giggs' 1,000th game and a worldwide audience. Like us, they are all probably wondering what has happened."

Man. United-Real Madrid highlights:



15 comments
  1. Frank Schnur
    commented on: March 6, 2013 at 10:05 a.m.
    No doubt that United is a world class team. But I disagree with Jose, Real is the better team. Better forwards, better midfielders, better defenders and better goalkeepers. Jose may have been disappointed with his team's performance - they seemed nervous in the first half. But Orzil is a magician and Modric was spectacular!

  1. Gordon Wright
    commented on: March 6, 2013 at 10:10 a.m.
    Really Frank? I'm a fan of both teams and to say Real Madrid has better forwards than Man U is a joke. Yes, they have Ronaldo, arguably the best in the world but collectively, no way their forwards are better than Rooney, V. Persie, Hernandez... And Modoric is the most inconsistent player on the field. In the next game (if he plays) his name will only be mentioned for turnovers.

  1. Kerry Ogden
    commented on: March 6, 2013 at 10:35 a.m.
    I agree with Gordon, Man-U is & was the better team last night, I am wondering what actions will be taken towards the Turkish ref! The foul was not intentional and at most should have warrented only a yellow card at most, also the PK that should have been given to Man-U was also over looked by the ref. You want ref's to also show good sportmanship in all matches but clearly his intent was to bring Man-U down when ever possible! I hope FIFA will review this game and a rematch be given to Man-U but this is wishful thinking on my part!! I feel their pain as well as millions of their fans!

  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: March 6, 2013 at 11:07 a.m.
    Not a red card. Maybe no foul even. Nani was looking at the ball all the way and was trying to control out of the air. Arbeloa, looking also at the ball runs into Nan's already raised foot.I don't believe Nani did anything reckless or with excessive force. Ref blew this call, but still, Man needed to organize and figure out how to see out the game with a one goal lead and 10 men. Not an impossible task for a great team.

  1. James Hardern
    commented on: March 6, 2013 at 11:11 a.m.
    Nothing will happen to the ref; according to the rules he made a completely reasonable call on the foul. "Intent" is not part of the rule; only severity of force and danger to other players. Based on the those criteria, per the rules, the referee made a correct call. The interpretation to Nani is that he should not assume that he can stick his foot out high and blindly and endanger another player, which he clearly did. You may not like the rule, but you cannot blame the ref. There will be no rematch - only endless regurgitation of nonsense about intent.

  1. ferdie Adoboe
    commented on: March 6, 2013 at 11:20 a.m.
    How do we describe great players and teams? They disappear for 90 mins and score 2 goals in stoppage time to win the match. Isn't this what made Man U great in 1999 against Bayern Munich? The better team won PERIOD.

  1. Doug Broadie
    commented on: March 6, 2013 at 12:28 p.m.
    I didn't think that the foul was a red, but not because of intent. "Intent" was written out of the rules in '97, except for handball which is another can of worms, and only how bad the foul was. If it was only careless, then a yellow was appropriate. Was the foul bad, then a red was in order. Right or wrong, it was his decision.

  1. Alex Stroessner
    commented on: March 6, 2013 at 12:29 p.m.
    ManU didn't score. How do you win if you can't score? End of story.

  1. Ben Tulchin
    commented on: March 6, 2013 at 1:03 p.m.
    Man U has no business complaining about the ref - he missed a clear handball by Rafael that should have been a penatly kick for Real. No one for Man U seems to be mentioning that. While I was surprised by the red card, a cleat into another player's chest is a very dangerous play and can merit one, as was the case. This was a great series against two excellent teams and Real had a little bit more quality - that Modric goal was spectacular and really shifted the momentum.

  1. Vince Leone
    commented on: March 6, 2013 at 1:20 p.m.
    On the missed handball by Rafael: Not only would RM have been awarded a penalty if the ref had seen it, but Rafael would have also been sent off--Law 12 says explicitly that this is a sending-off offense. On balance, ManU received favorable treatment from the ref: Would you rather have a player sent off or a player sent off and a penalty awarded?

  1. Kerry Ogden
    commented on: March 6, 2013 at 1:37 p.m.
    Well I guess that the Real Fans on this page missed the handball by RM, one wasn't a handball but another one was! Man-U also hand more shots on goal even with only 10 players on the pitch than RM! Mourniho said it best stating the The BEST TEAM LOST MAN-U in this case! The funny part about this is that anyone can site the rules but getting ref's to acknowledge the rules the same is almost impossible! I have seen countless times where challeges like this either warrented no card or just a yellow card! Alvaro Arbeloa also came in recklessly to challenge for the ball considering Nani's back was to the defender during this challege! I really don't care who won the game as much as a good game being played which the ref ruined by the bad call!!!

  1. ferdie Adoboe
    commented on: March 6, 2013 at 2:12 p.m.
    Kerry, Mourinho in saying that is simply plotting his next move.

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: March 6, 2013 at 2:27 p.m.
    Lots of commentary, yet, I opine that the red was harsh, and no one has mentioned that gawd-awful foot to the chest in a recent WC match, 'member that one? Intent is subjective and one a game official must decide instantaneously, and if anything it should've been a dangerous play for an indiret free kick and was that taken after the expulsion as I don't recall the ref raising his hand for the IFK. PLAY ON!!!

  1. david fernandes
    commented on: March 6, 2013 at 2:29 p.m.
    Let's be honest mr. Ferguson was weak after the red card. A team like man united should be able to hold the lead for at least 20 min and that happened in 10 min. Why did that happened??? As a man united fan I've seen Ferguson weakness because of his stubborn system against spain teams. He loves to play wide against those teams. Lets face it, united suffer a goal (modric goal) from a zone where at least 2 or 3 players should close that down and i only saw cleverley trying to block it. THAT IS RIDICULOUS! !!!!!..

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: March 6, 2013 at 4:31 p.m.
    Hey Ric, here is my email. arreblue@yahoo.com


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