Mourinho pleased with improvement despite loss

Mourinho pleased with improvement despite loss

Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho was happy with his side’s second-half display despite surrendering a lead to lose 3-2 against Barcelona in the first leg of the Spanish Supercopa.

Mourinho went ahead through Cristiano Ronaldo’s powerful 55th-minute header, but then looked almost out of the tie when three goals in 21 minutes from Pedro, Lionel Messi and Xavi put the hosts 3-1 in front.

However, a late error by Barca goalkeeper Victor Valdes allowed Angel Di Maria to reduce the arrears with five minutes remaining and give Madrid hope of overcoming the deficit in the return leg next Wednesday.

Mourinho said: “I didn’t like the first half. Sometimes we made a play that we didn’t want to make. The opponent has the credit of making you change your game plan but in the second half we pressed a lot and played well.

“In the first half we were limited to playing well defensively, but without attacking. Barcelona were better but in the second we played a completely different game.”

The former Inter Milan and Chelsea boss was, though, unhappy with Barcelona’s equaliser as it appeared to him that Pedro had wandered into an offside position before latching onto Javier Mascherano’s pass.

However, he refused to blame the oppressive heat as an excuse for his side conceding three quick goals after going in front.

“I didn’t like the first goal because it was an error from the assistant, but the heat is the same for everyone. For the heat we have prepared in pre-season in climates more difficult than what we have found here and last week.”

Barcelona boss Tito Vilanova, meanwhile, said he was not surprised Mourinho had criticised the referee’s assistant.

“It doesn’t surprise me that Mourinho speaks about the referees. You have to value the play of the opponent when they play well. I think in general the referee did well and didn’t have an influence on the game.”

Vilanova was disappointed not to take a more commanding lead to Madrid next week, but insisted that Valdes’ error was simply caused by taking a risk that Barca’s philosophy is built around.

“We had a good physical level and we had possession in almost every moment. We have dominated the play and had more chances. There was an opportunity to make it 4-1 and in the next act they made it 3-2, but we are happy with the victory,” he said.

“Many times Valdes has helped us. If he punted the ball forward every time then we would not have the combination play we have. We will encourage him to continue playing as he has done.”

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