Mourinho praises impressive Villarreal
Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho paid tribute to his side's fighting spirit after seeing them twice fight back from deficits and an under-par first-half display to defeat fellow high-fliers Villarreal 4-2 tonight.
Mourinho also heaped praise on their opponents, who he described as the best team to visit the Bernabeu this season. Real's 16-match winning streak in front of their own fans and Mourinho's remarkable record of having gone almost nine years without suffering a home defeat both looked in danger as impressive Villarreal caused numerous problems in the first half.
However, despite twice taking the lead through Cani and Marco Ruben, the Yellow Submarine had to settle for a 2-2 scoreline going into the interval as Real equalised both times through Cristiano Ronaldo.
The second half saw Real put on a much better showing and they got the lead they had been threatening when Ronaldo completed his hat-trick in the 80th minute, before the Portugal international set up Kaka two minutes later to end the scoring.
Mourinho said: "We deserved to win for the courage we had in the second half. The team was marvellous. At the start Villarreal were fantastic and Madrid were bad. I didn't like it that our opponents played such an exceptional game in the first half. Villarreal are the best team to have come here and those who have come the closest to winning.
"A fairer scoreline at half-time would have been 3-1 to Villarreal. We made it 2-2 when we didn't deserve it, because they had control of the game. Because of them, we didn't do very much.
"During the break I spoke with the players. I told them that it was a false scoreline and that I wanted to change the system, and especially the way we pressurised them. And the game changed completely. I took a risk and switched Kaka for [Raul] Albiol, and we won. You cannot sit back and wait in a championship where the leaders have only dropped five points and the second-placed team seven. We need to give it everything."
Real moved back to within two points of Primera Division leaders Barcelona with the victory, whilst putting an 11-point gap between themselves and third-placed Villarreal. Mourinho also gave his side of events regarding the incident at the end of the game when he celebrated Kaka's goal in front of the Villarreal bench, incurring the anger the visitors, one of whom threw a water bottle in the direction of the Portuguese.
It missed, but the referee raced over to brandish a red card to one of the Villarreal contingent on the sidelines. Mourinho said: "I swear that I went to celebrate the goal with my son who was behind their bench and they thought I was provoking them."