Jose Mourinho was left disappointed by a derby defeat the Manchester United manager believes was borne out of a poor first-half display and some refereeing mistakes.
Yesterday’s game saw city rivalries resumed and managerial hostilities renewed, with Mourinho having previously fought an at times ugly battle with Pep Guardiola for La Liga glory.
Now they share a city and the desire for Premier League success, with Guardiola striking the first blow as Kevin De Bruyne and Kelechi Iheanacho’s first-half goals proved enough for Manchester City to leave Old Trafford with a 2-1 win.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic pulled one back before the break after capitalising on a mistake by debutant goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, who Mourinho felt should have been sent off for lunging at Wayne Rooney after turning into danger.
The United manager also felt Nicolas Otamendi should have been pulled up for a hand ball – decisions by referee Mark Clattenburg that compounded a poor opening period by United.
Asked if he was disappointed by the first half or encouraged by the second, Mourinho said: “Both. I think in the first half we deserved to be losing and in the second half we don’t deserve to be losing.
“The first half was their half and they got what they deserved. In the second half, we were the best team. We didn’t get what we deserve.
“Clearly disappointed with the first half, disappointed with some really poor individual performances that affect the overall performance of the team.
“And in the second half, very pleased with many things, disappointed with the result and disappointed two very important decisions from Mark that were against us.”
Initially coy when asked to elaborate on those decisions, Mourinho opened up on the decisions he felt cost United derby points.
“It’s obvious that is a penalty and red card to Bravo,” he said. “If it is outside the box, it is a direct free-kick and a red card. Inside the box, it is more difficult. It is more difficult because it is a big decision and sometimes the referees they are like us, they are human and they think twice before big decisions.
“The second penalty is Otamendi hand ball, which I believe that some of you will say ‘that’s not a penalty’. I say 100 per cent penalty because Otamendi tries to stop the cross in the face of the goal, but the cross comes behind him.
“He knows and he brings the second arm back. Clear penalty so we were punished by that. But we were also punished by our very bad first half and that’s football. And mistakes from the referee are football too.”
Jesse Lingard and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were brought in to the line-up for the derby, but replaced at half-time after poor displays.
De Bruyne was the catalyst for the visitors – “Kevin had an amazing, amazing game,” Guardiola said – coolly opening the scoring after nipping past Daley Blind before firing a shot that hit the post and rebounded kindly for Iheanacho to deservedly extend City’s lead.
Mourinho’s side, by contrast, were struggling until Bravo’s composure disappeared with his clean sheet, flapping at a Rooney free-kick as Ibrahimovic fired home with aplomb before the break.
Joe Hart’s replacement looked flustered and, in truth, was fortunate not to give away a penalty or collect a card soon after the restart for his lunge at Rooney.
De Bruyne said: “It feels very good. It was a very hard game, very intense, and I thought both teams showed their quality and what their skill set is.”