Jose Mourinho has given his thoughts after Manchester United reached the Europa League final with a 1-1 draw against Celta Vigo on Thursday night.
A late Facundo Roncaglia equaliser and an Eric Bailly red card paved the way for a nervy finish, but the hosts held on and will take on Ajax in Stockholm for a place in the Champions League next season.
And Mourinho, speaking after the game, admitted that his players suffered against the Spaniards.
“I could guess after the first match because it was similar to Anderlecht. You are the best team by far in the first leg, you have to kill the game in the first leg and we didn’t,” he said.
“Because we never scores goals related to the chances we had and we got an open game at home with all the pressure on our side, with them free of pressure and responsibility and they gave us a very hard match.
“We had to suffer until the end and everything was open to the last second.
“The boys did not play a phenomenal match but they fought with everything they had to give.”
You could sense that Man United, with 20 minutes left, were starting to run out of steam against Celta. The effects of an exhausting schedule, multiple injuries, the visitors adopting a nothing-to-lose mentality and the fact that, essentially, nine months of hard work boiled down to this moment almost pushed Mourinho’s men to breaking point.
But they held on – somewhat unattractively, mind, but they got there. It was, in many ways, symbolic of United this season: often impotent going forward, stodgy at times, but doing enough to get through, to push past their opponent and one step closer to silverware.