Video: Mourinho Comments on Messi’s Injury But Backs Smalling

Former Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho says the facial injury suffered by Lionel Messi during a clash with Chris Smalling in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg was not down to foul play from the Manchester United defender.

Messi was left battered and bloody after an aerial challenge with United defender Smalling during the game at Old Trafford on Wednesday, won 1-0 by the Catalan club courtesy of a Luis Suarez header deflected off Luke Shaw and into his own net.

The assist for that header was provided with laser-like accuracy from Messi, perhaps the brightest moment of the match for the under-performing Argentine icon, and Mourinho believes this was partly down to Manchester United and the Barca captain himself.

“I don’t know if they did or if it was Messi who decided to be quiet. I think a little bit of both. United was positively aggressive,” Mourinho said during his RT show ‘On the Touchline.’

That situation with Smalling and Messi is nothing. It happens. He’s just a tall guy with tall arms. I don’t think he has that intention. But they thought about him. And they have to think about him.

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“By the defensive point of view they were good, keeping a lot of people behind the ball. But again there are two legs, you will have to go away in the second game. If it was a group phase, where one point would be a possitive result… They could, because Barcelona never killed the game,” he concluded.

The deflected header turned out to be the only goal of the game and United are now faced with an uphill struggle to reach the semi-final stage with the daunting prospect of needing to score at least two goals at Camp Nou to advance.

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