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Published: 17:52 | 7/4/18

Mourinho: "Our challenge is to finish second"


"Finishing second" is Jose Mourinho's clear target after his side staged one of the great Premier League comebacks to beat Manchester City 3-2 at The Etihad.

City just needed a draw to win the league title, and were coasting 2-0 at half-time through goals from Vincent Kompany and Ilkay Gundogan, looking every bit the dominant side.

But United rallied at half-time, with a Paul Pogba brace in the space of 97 seconds, followed by a Chris Smalling volley, winning it for the visitors. It was a huge win, which ended City's unbeaten home run of 27 matches. It will still take a miracle for City not to win the title, as they sit 13 points clear, but Mancunian bragging rights are with the red half of the city tonight.

United stay second, four clear of chasing Liverpool and Tottenham.

"Our challenge is to finish second but I want to congratulate City for the title because they are going to win and deservedly. They gave no chance to the others because they had this season of don't stop winning," said Mourinho post-match.

"My objective here was to get points and not spoil any celebrations. The point is can we improve enough to catch them next season?

"I was really sad with the first goal and I think it is the third corner they scored against us this season.

"Then with the second it was important for the players to keep confident. We moved the ball, more than any team has against Manchester City. We pressed a bit higher and we keep the shape to get a good result.

"I think mathematically we need six points to stay in the top four and this win is part of that tonight."

Manchester City host Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium in the Champions League quarter-final second leg on Tuesday 10 April, live on BT Sport 2 on the eir Sport pack [kick-off 7.45pm].

An opening 20-minute period saw little in the way of chances for either side. City had a very good shout for a penalty just five minutes in when a cross from David Silva struck Ashley Young's arm inside the area, but referee Martin Atkinson waved play on as United survived that early scare.

Bernardo Silva tested David de Gea from close range, after being played in by Raheem Sterling, with the Spanish keeper making a blocked save with his legs.

But it was City that were to break the deadlock, 20 minutes later and through their skipper Kompany. Leroy Sane whipped a corner into the box from the left, which Kompany rose to meet with a bullet header from six yards - having shrugged off the tame challenge of Smalling - to leave keeper De Gea with no chance and score his second goal of the season.

Five minutes later City doubled their lead. They worked their way to the edge of the area, where Sterling slipped a ball into the path of Gundogan, with the Germany international performing a John Cruyff-style turn on the ball, before right toe-poking home to the bottom-right corner. United were hanging in by a thread and Sterling could have finished it when played in on goal, but the England international could only manage to hammer the ball over the bar and high into the stands - a mistake he was to repeat just a few minutes later.

Pogba tested Ederson in nets after the break, but Gundogan also hit the upright from just outside the area for City. However, United were far more impressive in attack after they had changed sides and that reaped a goal. Alexis Sanchez jinked into space before clipping a ball into the box for Ander Herrera to chest down to Pogba to lash home from close range on 53 minutes. Two minutes later they were level: Sanchez broke free down the left before squaring for Pogba in the six-yard box to connect and head low to the bottom-left corner past De Gea.

United completed a stunning turnaround on 69 minutes. Again Sanchez was the provider as he delivered a free-kick to the box, with Smalling creeping in at the box post unmarked to volley home past Ederson. City were denied another clear penalty when substitute Sergio Aguero was taken out by studs-up challenge by Young in the box, as City looked to pull level once more. Aguero went within a fingertip of a leveller as he headed at goal from a yard after a cross into he box, with De Gea making a stunning on the line save over the bar. Sterling then hit the upright as the game ticked into the red after he got on the end of a cross from the left as United survived to keep the title race alive - just.

Manchester City host Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium in the Champions League quarter-final second leg on Tuesday 10 April, live on BT Sport 2 on the eir Sport pack [kick-off 7.45pm].

Image: Getty Images/ Michael Regan

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