This was poised to be a tribute to the great Cristiano before José Mourinhos side produced a group-stage homage to 1999
Instead of which on a mild, still, occasionally fevered night in Turin United produced a moment of Barcelona-lite, a group stage homage to the triumphs of 1999, turning 1-0 down into 2-1 up in the final four minutes.
Read more There was even time for some high-grade toxic José Mourinho theatre at the end. First Uniteds manager could be seen waving his arms and stamping his feet like an angry little marionette as Marcus Rashford, through on goal, had the temerity to try to actually score rather than running it into the corner, or hiding in a hole with the ball up his jumper, or poking a passing pensioner in the eye, or whatever else José had in mind.
As the final whistle was blown Mourinho could be seen punching the air furiously. Not a punch of joy, but an actual nose-crushing series of straight rights in his moment of triumph. Finally he marched out on to the pitch and was confronted by Leonardo Bonucci, irresistibly riled by this figure in black, cupping his ear to the crowd, producing a horribly weird, mocking sneer.
A match that had looked like fading out into the mutual handshake of a useful draw with an hour gone had become something else entirely. A match that had looked like becoming a paean to the great Cristiano with 63 minutes gone had become something else again.
And from here there will be a temptation for some to see turning points, thresholds crossed, a sense of ignition for whatever third-season, late-stage José United is supposed to look like. If this is perhaps a leap too far two things are certain. First, this United team produced a display that Mourinho will treasure for its discipline and its hard edges.
And second, this is the best single result of the Mourinho era. Juventus dont lose in Turin. Stretching back to 2003 Juventus had been beaten just once in 35 home Champions League group stage games before last night. The Allianz Stadium is an ugly, remote, strangely impenetrable fortress, shoved in behind a shopping mall moat and a high wire fence. Inside its a magnificent, steeply banked amphitheatre, with its deafening Eurotrash PA, the familiar squeal of AC/DCs Thunderstruck as the home players come out to warm up. Juve under the lights like state-of-the-art stadium rock football. Except, not quite this time.
For the first hour United had been tough and gristly, a team playing an older version of European football, a matter of stilling the crowd and calming the tempo. It is worth remembering who they were up against too, and not just the man Mourinho referred to as that player afterwards. Although, yes, mainly him. There had been a mere six pages on this game in Gazzetta on Wednesday morning, under the heading Il Big Match. Cristiano Ronaldo the sun king, dominated most of it, with Paul Pogbas return little more than a curio.
Read more With 15 minutes gone Ronaldo had taken 10 touches, three of them shots at goal. There were a few moments of dizzyingly fine close control from Paulo Dybala, who appears to have a strangely hypnotic, sensual relationship with the ball. United were quietly playing well. They were compact and calm in their charcoal grey away kit, the kind of colour the artisan paint charts call armadillo breath or autumn toenail. Runs were tracked. A shape was maintained. Ashley Young has become a vocal leader in this team. Before kick-off he went around hugging every one of his teammates and whispering words of succour in their ears. And he was solid and spiky here, a skinny little warrior on that right flank.
When it came Juves opening goal was a masterpiece conjured up out of some steady pressure. It was made by Bonuccis sublime lofted pass, but mainly by the run, Ronaldos feet suddenly pounding the turf like a boxer hitting the speed bag as he drove through the centre of the United defence. As the ball fell, slowly, gently over his shoulder he didnt have to break stride, spanking it with the top of his right foot past David de Gea. He ran to the corner, arms outspread, and raised the hem of his shirt in celebration, rippling those 33-year-old abdominals. And so we remember, at this difficult time, not only Cristianos ab-ripple, but also Pardews dance, its close forebear in the vanity-hubris stakes.
Uniteds change changed the game. Juan Mata floated in a lovely free-kick to score with his third touch. The winner was bundled in from another set piece. United had silenced, and then infuriated, the stadium. And whatever happens from here to this muscular, pared back, increasingly convincing side, they will always have Turin.
Jose Mourinho cupped his hand to his ear and taunted the Juventus fans following his Manchester United sides dramatic comeback in the Champions League group encounter in Turin on Wednesday.
Juventus centre-back Leonardo Bonucci approached to Mourinho to complain after the full-time whistle, while striker Paulo Dybala also questioned him.
Mourinho said afterwards he has “respect for Juventus” and was reacting to “insults” from the home fans.
“In a beautiful Italian city, they insulted me for 90 minutes,” Mourinho, who managed Juventus rivals Inter Milan between 2008 and 2010, told BT Sport. “I didnt insult them. I just made a little thing.
“I know the millions of Inter fans are happy with that. But I respect Juventus, their players, the manager, the quality they have.”
Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri was not too fazed by it and said “everyone has their own personal reactions”.
Former Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes said Mourinho could have shown “a bit of class”, while ex-United striker Dion Dublin said all the attention “turned to Mr Mourinho”.
Scholes speaking on BT Sport: “This is everywhere he goes. You need to win with a bit of class sometimes, shake the managers hand. I dont think theres any need for it but thats the way he is.”
Dublin on Radio 5 live: “There was no real need for Jose Mourinho to get involved there. The players were all congratulating each other and some were going over to congratulate Cristiano Ronaldo.
“Then all of the attention turns to Mr Mourinho, he has his right hand to his right ear as if to say to all the Juve fans, What have you got to say about that?”
The Portuguese did get some support from Owen Hargreaves though. The former Manchester United midfielder said it was a “big week” for the club and the celebration was understandable.
Hargreaves on BT Sport: “Its not necessary but its a remarkable result and its a big week for United and Mourinho.”
He clashed with the Juventus fans in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford last month when he held three fingers up, in reference to the treble he won while manager of Inter Milan in 2010.
He also famously raced down the touchline when his Porto side knocked United out of the Champions League back in 2004, sliding on his knees.
Mourinho was given a five-match European ban for his conduct after Real Madrids Champions League semi-final first-leg against Barcelona in 2011 too.
And recently, Mourinho was on the receiving end of some passionate celebrating as Chelsea assistant coach Marco Ianni was fined £6,000 by the FA for his taunts in front of the United manager at the end of their 2-2 draw.
Annette: Once again Mourinho proving hes got no class at the end of the game why does he have to do that!
Harrish Lakka: Mou taking on the supporters reminds me of Hitchens taking on the audience. Something mischievous yet audacious.
Kashyap Savalia: Personally I dont think that was lack of class from Mourinho to celebrate like that. Players do celebrate like that all the time. Also, do you think Juve fans were chanting nice things about him given his Inter connection?! No chance!
Chris AFC: Lucky victory and then Jose Mourinho goads the home crowd with a ridiculous celebration. There is a reason I rarely/never feel sorry for their demise.
Jim Camina-Carry: Jose Mourinho is savage. That celebration reminds me so much of Juv vs Inter in his early years in Serie A.