25 Feb Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte in focus
Jose Mourinho’s public spat with Antonio Conte had increased anticipation for Sunday’s Premier League clash at Old Trafford.
Plenty had been said between the pair in a feud that began in October 2016, but would they clash when they went head-to-head on the touchline?
Television pictures from the tunnel showed Mourinho making his way to the front with a handshake or acknowledgement for the Chelsea XI. Conte seemed visibly keen to stay at the back and away from any confrontation, although the Manchester United boss instigated a handshake as he approached the dugout.
Italian Conte rued Alvaro Morata’s early chance which rattled the crossbar, shouting and clasping his hands. He turned to the bench and pumped his arms in delight in the 32nd minute when Willian fired Chelsea in front but did not look to his right where Mourinho was standing. The Portuguese, with his side back on level terms, was seen making a point to the fourth official about Chelsea players surrounding the referee at the end of the first half.
The pair were pictured smiling and joking together on the touchline when a free-kick was awarded to Eden Hazard midway through the first half. It looked genuine. No more interactions between the pair were evident during the game, but Mourinho did send on defender Eric Bailly with a note for team-mate Nemanja Matic. At the final whistle, the pair smiled as they shook hands and Mourinho placed his hand on the back of the Italian’s head. He then handed his notepad to a young fan in the crowd.
Mourinho came out on top and will be pleased with his side’s response to falling behind as goals from Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard secured a 2-1 win. Victory moved Manchester United back into second spot ahead of Liverpool, who they face at home on March 10. Conte will be disappointed with Chelsea’s failure to build on Willian’s strike. They stay fifth following the defeat.