Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho was involved in a furious bust-up touchline bust-up after Ross Barkley’s 96th-minute equaliser rescued Chelsea’s unbeaten Premier League start at Stamford Bridge.
Mourinho’s side looked on course for an outstanding win over his former club after two goals from Anthony Martial overturned the first-half lead given to the hosts by Antonio Rudiger’s 21st-minute header.
He bowed his head in disappointment as Barkley scored in the dying seconds after a goalmouth scramble, but then reacted angrily as Chelsea technical assistant Marco Ianni celebrated in front of him before then pumping his fists in Mourinho’s direction again.
The Portuguese jumped from his seat and was then held back by a mixture of stewards and Manchester United staff as he attempted to get down the tunnel at Ianni.
It was a dramatic conclusion as Mourinho saw victory snatched away after he had replied to the taunts of Chelsea fans by holding up three fingers to remind them of the three Premier League titles he won while in charge at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues looked in control when Rudiger took advantage of Paul Pogba’s poor marking to head home Willian’s corner, but United responded superbly after the break and Martial’s double – a smart, swivelling finish and a composed, low effort – put the visitors on the brink of three points until that frantic finale.
Mourinho’s emotions boil over
Mourinho kept his emotions in check for most of the afternoon as returned again to the club where enjoyed success still under pressure at Manchester United – but then it all boiled over in that super-charged finish.
He allowed himself a celebratory fist-pump when Martial drove in United’s second goal. It was low-key and would have gone pretty much unnoticed had it not been caught on the television cameras.
It was then, as the clock ticked down, that Mourinho’s body language became animated and his emotions bubbled to the surface, concluding in that chaotic confrontation by the tunnel entrance as he felt Chelsea technical staff member Ianni overdid the celebrations of Barkley’s late leveller.
The manager’s temperature was rising even before then as United protected the lead that could have given them a crucial win, with the added delight for Mourinho of achieving it at Stamford Bridge, where he won those three titles. No matter how calm he tried to remain, you could see how much this meant to him.
When goalscorer Martial chased back towards the halfway line to close down a Chelsea player, Mourinho was jumping out of his seat in the technical area – first to urge the France forward on to greater efforts to win the ball, then with an extravagant fist-pump, applause and even an advance onto the pitch to slap him on the back for completing his task.
Mourinho’s understandable anguish as Barkley celebrated his equaliser was not helped by what he clearly saw as gloating from the Chelsea backroom member, and he was only persuaded to let the matter rest after being calmed down by stewards and his staff.
The Portuguese decided to have the last word with that three-fingered gesture towards Chelsea fans – but victory would have been a much sweeter response.
Martial delivers for Mourinho
Martial has often cut a discontended figure at Manchester United this season – and his relationship with Mourinho has been the subject of much debate.
The 22-year-old France forward has been marginalised on occasions this season, but has now proved his worth and quality in successive games.
Martial’s snapshot finish played its part in the comeback from two goals down to beat Newcastle United before the international break, and on Saturday at Stamford Bridge he was the spearhead for United’s revival after Chelsea controlled the first half.
He equalised with a finish of superb technique on the turn, then coolly completed good work by Juan Mata and Marcus Rashford by steering a low shot into the bottom corner.
Martial was also willing to do the dirty work and was rewarded with a warm embrace and words from his manager that brought a smile to his face when he was substituted.
United’s hierarchy clearly see Martial as a key element of their future and hope he will commit to a long-term contract. Mourinho will certainly be grateful for his contribution in the past two games.