José Mourinho admits Manchester United rode luck after first-half ‘disaster’

• Mourinho felt like ‘luckiest manager in league’ to be 1-1 at break
• Marcus Rashford scores winner in 2-1 victory at Bournemouth

José Mourinho admitted Manchester United’s first-half performance was a “disaster” but praised his side’s fighting spirit after they came from behind to inflict Bournemouth’s first home defeat of the season thanks to substitute Marcus Rashford’s late winner.

After a calamitous opening spell from United that saw Ryan Fraser spurn a great opportunity in the fourth minute, the hosts took a deserved lead through Callum Wilson and had opportunities to put the game to bed before Anthony Martial’s equaliser against the run of play.

An improved performance after the introduction of Rashford and Ander Herrera from the bench eventually saw the England striker poke home in stoppage time, although Mourinho acknowledged that their start to the match had been unacceptable.

“At half-time, I thought I was the luckiest manager in the Premier League, because to be 1-1 in a half when it should be like 5 or 6-2, we were really lucky,” he said. “We were really poor, defensively awful. And I do not just look to my defenders, as a team we did not start pressing up, the work we did during the week. People watching this game will not believe how hard we worked this week. The first half was a disaster.”

Mourinho pointed to the incident involving Chris Smalling that allowed Fraser his early chance only for David De Gea to save his effort as the trigger for United’s demise, claiming that the England defender’s mistake had “triggered instability in the team”.

He added: “It looked like we don’t work tactically during the week, which obviously is the worst feeling for me because we work so much that I expect my team to be really good. I feel frustrated with that.

“The good thing is that the team has this face of a fantastic character and the heart that any result, the game is not over. In the second half, I could understand some of the frustration because we produced some incredible chances and we didn’t score. But then we managed to score in [stoppage] time and we got the points we lost against Chelsea.”

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The victory lifts United level on points with Bournemouth but they still trail Eddie Howe’s side on goal difference. Mourinho admitted that he had commiserated with his opposite number at the final whistle after an exciting game and Howe was full of praise for his players despite their disappointment at losing the game so late in the day.

“It’s a tough one for us. There was a lot of intensity to our play and we created a number of chances,” he said. “The disappointment at half-time was that we weren’t winning but it was one of the best first-half performances we’ve seen since we were promoted to the Premier League.

“We knew it would be a different game in the second half and full credit to them for sticking in the game. But from our perspective we’re disappointed. There was always the feeling that there was another goal in the game and unfortunately it wasn’t for us.”