Following a 2-1 shock defeat by Bristol City in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday, Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho believes that it was ‘not a big night’ for his players but chose to congratulate their opponents for the win.
Korey Smith’s stoppage-time strike secured a stunning 2-1 victory for City as they took a fourth Premier League scalp in the Carabao Cup this term, with United going the same way as Watford, Stoke and Crystal Palace.
Joe Bryan gave City a 51st-minute lead but Zlatan Ibrahimovic equalised shortly afterwards. Then, just when extra-time beckoned, Smith was set free by Matty Taylor and delivered the goods.
“I studied their team. I made my players aware of their qualities. I think they were lucky. Before it went 1-0 we had two shots that hit their post an after it was 1-1 we the domination of the game and had the best of the chances,” said Mourinho.
“And then they scored the goal in a moment when we had no chance to fight back so they were lucky but they fought very hard and they are a very good team.
“It was not very good but it was not such a bad performance that I can come here and be very critical of my players. I prefer to give credit to Bristol.
There were few positives on a sobering night for Mourinho after he decided to hand a number of fringe players, such as Matteo Darmian, Daley Blind, Scott McTominay and Ibrahimovic, rare starts.
And the United boss acknowledged that his side just could not match the belief and energy of Lee Johnson’s high-flying team, who will face Man City in the semi-finals.
“We didn’t want extra time and we wanted to try to win the game in the 90 minutes which is why I said they were lucky but they fought to be lucky,” he added.
“Sometimes you think that luck comes from nowhere but normally luck comes from effort and belief which they had.
“It was a big night for them. Probably for some of my players it was not a big night. It was just one more day in the office.
“When you play against teams with an extra motivation you need also that extra motivation. Congratulations to them.”
For the huge victory, Bristol City have been rewarded with a date against runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City in the semifinals, with the other semi pitting Arsenal against Chelsea.