Jose Mourinho has given his thoughts on Manchester United’s 3-1 win over Middlesbrough in the Premier League, noting that Rudy Gestede’s introduction and his side’s decision to sit deep changed the complexion of the game.
Man United, making their first appearance at the Riverside in eight years, raced into a commanding lead through two wonderfully taken goals from Marouane Fellaini and Jesse Lingard either side of half time.
Gestede capitalised on a Chris Smalling error inside the box to halve the deficit and continued to apply some late pressure until an injury time Victor Valdes blooper left Antonio Valencia with a chance to walk the ball into an empty net.
And Mourinho, who predicted his side to lose against Middlesbrough, noted that United dominated proceedings until Lingard’s 62nd minute strike.
“We control everything until our second goal and then they changed to play with Gestede and Negredo,” he said.
“They start putting long balls in the box. We decided to defend with an extra defender but I think we made the mistake of letting them push us too much into our box and then it was a fighting 15 minutes where they didn’t have chances but they were close to the dangerous areas so the game was alive until the las second.”
You could see, almost from minute one, exactly why Middlesbrough hold the badge for ‘lowest scoring team’ in the Premier League this season. They were largely blunt-edged going forward, unable to sustain any meaningful pressure, which in turn allowed the visitors to maintain a high-line whenever they had the ball.
The perfect environment, you might say, for Mourinho’s newly engendered three-at-the-back set-up the thrive, with the presence of Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young opening up spaces for United’s front three to inflict damage all afternoon.