United was headed for a stunning and uplifting win when, in the 96th minute, Ross Barkley slammed home a rebound to level the match at 2-2. Then chaos ensued.
Barkley’s equalizer incites Mourinho-Chelsea scuffle
In the aftermath of the goal, Chelsea assistant coach Marco Ianni pranced down the touchline in celebration, right in front of the United bench. His initial sprint drew no reaction from shellshocked United players and coaches.
However, more antics on his way back to the Chelsea bench, clearly intended to inflame United’s staff, did just that.
Mourinho was at the center of it all. Upon Ianni’s secondary celebration, he bolted up out of his seat and charged toward the Chelsea bench. Only a well-placed steward prevented a melee:
Mourinho sees red! 👀🔴
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) October 20, 2018
Players rushed over to get involved, then continued their chaotic disagreements after returning to the field. The on-field dispute seemed to stem from Ander Herrera delaying kickoff by flicking the ball away, while Chelsea players wanted to get on with the game and go for all three points. That resulted in pushing and shoving in the center circle.
Remarkably, all involved acted like responsible adults after the final whistle. Mourinho and Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri made up with a handshake in the immediate aftermath.
According to Mourinho, speaking at his post-match news conference, Sarri was the first one to apologize, and told Mourinho he would handle the matter internally. Ianni also found Mourinho to give his apology, which Mourinho accepted.
“I immediately said, ‘If you really feel that way and want to apologize of course I accept,'” Mourinho explained. “‘Forget it, because I’ve also made lots of mistakes in my career. I’m not going to kill you because of [just] one.'”
The scuffle overshadowed what was a thrilling, nonsensical game – in the end a fair result, but not satisfying for either side.
As Mourinho said when asked about the extracurricular activities after the goal: “The 97-minute game was so good that you have to focus on that.”
Mourinho taunts Chelsea fans
But not even Mourinho could do that in the heat of the moment. He and Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri had made amends with a handshake. But as choruses of Chelsea fans told their former manager to “f— off” as he exited the field, he held up three fingers, a typically pompous reminder of how many Premier League titles the egotistical lunatic had won at Stamford Bridge.
The performance was a decent reminder, too.
An eventful and strange game
Mourinho’s plan was somewhat illegible in the first half. And United went behind to an Antonio Rudiger header. Pundits blamed Paul Pogba for losing his man. But the blatantly flawed man-marking scheme – one that saw United concede 10 set-piece goals last year, and now three in nine games this season – bore just as much fault.
But the plan came into focus after halftime. Anthony Martial – who has spent much of the past two-plus years at odds with Mourinho – punctuated two classic attacks to give United a late lead.
But the visitors couldn’t hold it, and failed to win for the fifth time in nine Premier League matches this season. A Mourinho sacking remains long overdue.
Chelsea, meanwhile, inched to the top of the league. But only for about two-and-a-half hours. A home draw with a thoroughly mediocre adversary is less than ideal in what is shaping up to be a tight title race.
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