Jose Mourinho hailed Manchester United’s “mentality, desire and togetherness” to overcome Celta Vigo in the Europa League semi-finals on Thursday.
United were made to sweat by Celta in the second leg as Facundo Roncaglia scored a late equaliser in the 1-1 draw, Eric Bailly saw red and the Galicians missed several chances for a second away goal.
“You know, every game is a game with a different story,” the former Real Madrid boss said after the game, reports Manchester Evening News.
“But our story this season was normally when we play very well we don’t score enough goals, and then when you don’t play so well you are in trouble, this is basically our story.
“In Vigo, we played very well, from the first minute I felt on the bench calm, relaxed, everything was under control, I don’t remember one chance that they have, I remember chances – big chances – to kill the game and the tie.
“Today in the second-half they had nothing to lose, mentally, they had that advantage, the team that has nothing to lose against the team that is winning, that plays at home with responsibility on their shoulders and then they gamble.
“It’s difficult to get the players to bring the block up but they know they are winning, they know they are not far from reaching the final, so they stay back and I had to choose in that moment to bring, for example, Martial or Mata on to give some support because the block is staying back.
“And then Eric [Bailly] is out, and okay they lost a player but I lost a central defender, so I have to play Smalling in that moment in central defence.
"I said that but obviously Manchester United had other semi-finals. [We] had finals, had Champions League finals, obviously this was not the most important match in the history of the club or myself.
“But it’s just a way to approach things. For Celta, it was. For Celta, for Vigo, it was the most important match in their history and it was important we equal that desire.
“And when the game was difficult and they were better than us, and when we were in trouble and not playing well, it was that mentality, that desire, that togetherness that made the boys fight until the end.
“Bailly’s red card? I didn’t see anything, not even now on television. I didn’t see anything.”
Staying on the latter, Mou added to BT Sport: “I didn’t see the incident but he was phenomenal.
“The game was emotional. Some kept control better than others. Eric was maybe a bit naive.”