October 20, 2018
As the game entered stoppage time, everything seemed so orderly. Jose Mourinho had kept to his promise that he would demonstrate restraint if his team were winning and, in fairness, Chelsea’s supporters had shown no appetite to hound him in the way they had on previous visits to his former club with Manchester United. But then the dramatic, extraordinary finale: 96 minutes gone, the moment when everything erupted, when Mourinho lost the plot and a confrontation in the tunnel that made it literally shake because of the number of people involved.
Mourinho was clearly incensed by the provocative manner in which Marco Ianni, of Maurizio Sarri’s staff, celebrated Ross Barkley’s late equaliser directly in front of him, fists pumping, and it was true the home team’s coach seemed unduly keen to rub it in.

“Bad education,” Mourinho noted afterwards and until the stewards intervened he looked like he would happily throttle his antagonist. The FA is likely to want an explanation and in the circumstances it was almost a surprise Mourinho calmed down quickly enough to shake Sarri’s hand at the final whistle a few moments later.
Sarri was not impressed with Ianni either, describing it as a “big mistake” and instructing his assistant to apologise to Mourinho. “The situation is now between me and my staff, face to face,” Sarri said, indicating that would not be the last Ianni, who worked with him at Napoli, would hear of it.
At least Mourinho accepted the apology but it was an extraordinary finish to a match that left United’s manager complaining about an “awful result”, so convinced was he that his team ought to have won. He was clearly enraged and held up three fingers – signifying the number of league championships he won for Chelsea – in the direction of supporters who were baiting him as he made his way off the pitch. Nothing, however, will have hurt him as much as the final attack when David Luiz’s header hit the post, David de Gea kept out Antonio Rüdiger’s follow-up effort and Barkley scored from the second rebound.
Chelsea’s late leveller against Manchester United sparks touchline chaos around Mourinho
As Mourinho pointed out, the goal originated from a set play, just as was the case after 20 minutes when Rüdiger scored. United have managed only one clean sheet all season and Chelsea’s first goal came from a standard corner routine: a ball delivered by Willian, a splendid demonstration from Paul Pogba of how to lose a man inside the penalty area, and a decisive header from eight yards out.
Chelsea had won all three of Mourinho’s previous visits as United’s manager, with a combined score of 6-0 and his exasperation was understandable given that, for the most part, his team controlled the threat of Eden Hazard, rarely encountered any problems from the listless Álvaro Morata and gradually took hold of the game courtesy of two second-half goals from a renascent Anthony Martial.
In those moments it must have been startling for Sarri to see the way his team lost their way and perhaps for the first time we saw hard evidence of why Chelsea’s manager has been saying since the start of the season that his team are not fully equipped to sustain a title challenge.
Until the last, dramatic twist United’s second-half improvement could probably be summed up by the sight of Mourinho stepping on to the pitch to give Martial a congratulatory slap on the back for chasing down an opponent.
Chelsea did at least have the force of personality to start pressing again in the final exchanges but it was a strangely subdued performance. Sarri was correct to say they were rarely threatened in the first half. Equally, it was unusual to see them create so few opportunities aside from those that led to the goals.
Sarri might also be intrigued to find out why, immediately before Martial’s first goal, Marcos Alonso made the curious decision to lie motionless in the penalty area – presumably hoping the referee, Mike Dean, might stop play – because of an apparent injury that did not appear to affect him in the slightest for the remainder of the game.
Chelsea could certainly have done with all their defenders on their feet. Kepa Arrizabalaga kept out Juan Mata’s shot but the home side never properly cleared their lines and when Ashley Young had a go from the other side the shot took a slight deflection off Jorginho and Marcus Rashford before reaching Martial, who fired in emphatically.
Martial’s second goal was an even more accomplished finish: another thumping right-foot shot into the bottom corner after a quick, penetrative breakaway led by Mata and Rashford. At that stage United looked a decent bet to follow up their 3-2 defeat of Newcastle with another hard-won victory from a losing half-time position.
Unlike Newcastle, however, Chelsea still managed to have the final word and Barkley’s opportunism means they have remained unbeaten in their first nine games for only the third time in the Premier League era – the other occasions being title-winning seasons in 2005-06 and 2014-15, both under Mourinho.
Sarri seemed dismayed that one of his coaches had set out to antagonise the opposition manager and it was probably for the best Ianni rather sneakily raced down the tunnel to avoid prolonging the argument. Man of the match: the orange-jacketed steward who caught Mourinho just as it seemed some real damage might be done.
Chelsea’s late leveller against Manchester United sparks touchline chaos around Mourinho
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