Nemanja Matic’s stoppage-time strike secured an unlikely three points that took them back up to second in the Premier League, ahead of Saturday’s showdown with rivals Liverpool.
They went two down shortly after half-time when Patrick van Aanholt’s finish doubled the advantage Andros Townsend had already given Palace, but Chris Smalling, Romelu Lukaku and then Matic broke the hosts’ hearts to leave them in 18th place.
“(It was) a remarkable comeback, but we made mistakes,” said Mourinho, 55. “A fantastic comeback, but mistakes. The attitude, the intensity, the quality, the dynamic, the risk were fantastic. We needed that little bit of luck to win in the last minute.
“But I’d say we deserved it because the dominance in that last half-hour was huge.”
The first goal is a bad goal”, he added. “In the second half we were all expecting a direct comeback, and then we concede a goal that is a good goal to show the kids in the academies in the country.
“Palace did very, very well. Roy (Hodgson, their manager) was aggressive. Roy was clever. He went direct and tried to bring the emotion to the game to his team, which he did, and they were always dangerous.
“It’s very hard for them to lose and go home without a single point, because they gave absolutely everything.”
Match-winner Matic hailed his teammates fightback but admitted United must do more if they are to challenge Manchester City for the title next season.
“I’m happy I’ve scored my first goal for Manchester United,” he said. “I know it’s not my job but I’m glad it got us the three points.”
“After the second goal it was very difficult for us to come back; we showed character and did exactly what the manager wanted us to do,” the Serbian said.
“In these kind of games, if we can manage to win we can compete for the title. The quality is there but we have to be honest: we need to do more.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United came from two goals down to produce a sensational second-half fightback and beat Crystal Palace 3-2 on Monday night.
Here, using Opta‘s heat and touch maps, we look at home United’s final 15 minutes compared to the rest of the match as the visitors scored twice late on to seal a crucial victory.
Amazingly, it was the first time a side under Mourinho had managed to overturn a 2-0 deficit and win in the Premier League, while the last time the Red Devils achieved such a feat was back in December 2013 against Hull.
Indeed, the manager of the turnaround evoked memories from the late goals we became accustomed to from Sir Alex Ferguson’s side down through the years.
The Old Trafford club’s triumph seemed pretty unlikely after a dour first-half display which saw the relegation-threatened hosts go 1-0 up, and then double their advantage soon after the break.
United’s first-half heatmap showed that they barely mustered a fruitful attack and had to deal with Palace’s forays into their own penalty box frequently.
But that changed in the second 45 as United scored thrice, with the overall heatmap suggesting a much more fluid display from the Manchester giants.
Romelu Lukaku levelled the match at 2-2 on 76 minutes and Nemanja Matic scored his stoppage-time winner, with the graphic below showing United’s territorial pressure in the final 15 minutes or so of the match.
Mourinho’s men upped their possession to almost 70 per cent and weren’t content to leave Selhurst Park with just one point in the bag.
Here’s how United’s players looked as they went for the kill – from 76 minutes to the 95 minutes played in total.
While Matic’s midfield partner Paul Pogba was largely derided for an ineffective display, Matic proved his all-action qualities. His winning goal obviously stole the headlines, but the Serbian was an effective enforcer throughout, helping United to get a grip in a game that was slipping away from them. He mustered three shots on goal, three dribbles and won as many aerial duels in the middle of the park. His improvement was significant in United’s win.
Matic’s first-half touch map
The 29-year-old second-half showing…
The Catalan embraced Aguero in a bear hug as he left the pitch having ran himself into the ground in Sunday’s 1-0 win over Chelsea, which edged City to within four wins of the Premier League title.
It was the first time in eight home games Aguero had failed to find the net, but that mattered little to Guardiola, who is now seeing the all-round game from Aguero he demands of his strikers.
“Since we were together here with Sergio, I think the last month, two months is the best Sergio I have seen,” said Guardiola, preparing his team for the visit of Basel in the Champions League on Wednesday.
“Not just scoring goals, but he doesn’t lose one ball.
“He makes a movement for runs in behind, he is the first guy to make a high pressing, to help that second line be more comfortable with the ball.”
Those words contrast sharply with a reportedly frosty relationship between the coach and his star striker during Guardiola’s trophyless first season in the northwest of England.
Aguero, 29, still scored 33 goals in all competitions, more than he ever had for City in a single season, but often found himself on the sidelines in the second half of the season as Guardiola opted instead for Gabriel Jesus.
“In the first year at times we didn’t adapt,” Aguero admitted to Spanish radio station Cadena SER.
“But this year, with all we have learned from last year, I think we have learned what he wants – how to play out from the back, the movements, so it makes it much easier on the pitch.”
Aguero has also been aided by injury to Jesus. The Brazilian suffered medial ligament damage to his left knee on January 31 and has only returned with three short cameos off the bench in the past week.
During Jesus’s two-month layoff, Aguero doubled his tally for the season to move onto 30 goals and re-establish himself as City’s number one striker.
The club’s decision not to get involved in a bidding war with local rivals Manchester United for Alexis Sanchez despite long-standing interest, and even though Guardiola had previously worked with the Chilean at Barcelona, was another vote of City’s confidence in their all-time top goalscorer.
That trust is mutual, with Aguero now backing Guardiola as the best coach he has ever had.
“I’ve had a lot of coaches and they all had different thoughts and obviously differing tactics,” said Aguero. “The truth is yes (he’s the best).”
Yet, for all his goals and all he has achieved since arriving in Manchester in 2011, Aguero is still to taste Champions League glory.
City, with the League Cup in their trophy cabinet and the Premier League virtually sewn up, have certainly never been as well-equipped to do so in Aguero’s time.
Guardiola’s team look assured of progress to the quarter-finals at the Etihad, with the luxury of a 4-0 win against their Swiss opponents in the first leg of their last-16 tie.
“If we keep going like this we have a very good chance,” said Aguero.
“The club has invested a lot of money to win the Champions League, so hopefully it is our year.”