With Cardiff victory, Manchester’s Reds put on united front after Jose Mourinho exit

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba celebrates the fifth goal against Cardiff City. (AP)
Updated 24 December 2018
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With Cardiff victory, Manchester’s Reds put on united front after Jose Mourinho exit

  • United captain Ashley Young admitted the mood around Old Trafford had been instantly lifted with Solskjaer’s appointment
  • Manchester United players put on a unified front when questioned about the sacking of former manager Jose Mourinho

LONDON: After thrashing Cardiff City 5-1 in the Premier League on Saturday, Manchester United players put on a unified front when questioned about the sacking of former manager Jose Mourinho.
United captain Ashley Young admitted the mood around Old Trafford had been instantly lifted by caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s “smile,” but denied there were any celebrations in the dressing room at news of Jose Mourinho’s sacking.
Solskjaer is now in temporary charge at Old Trafford until the end of the season after Mourinho was dismissed on Tuesday with United 19 points off the top of the table.
“I don’t think he (Solskjaer) has stopped smiling,” Young said after victory in the Welsh capital.
“He was like that as a player. He always has a smile on his face and I think that can reflect down on to the team, which is a good thing.
“Ole has come in and we were preparing in the right way for a game, even though it’s been a crazy week.”
And Young dismissed any suggestion players were delighted to see the back of Mourinho.
“No celebrations at all. Absolute lies.
“Obviously it was disappointing for the manager to get sacked. In his two-and-a-half years he won trophies. We have to take some responsibility for that as we are on the pitch.
“But we have to move on from that. As professional players we have to get on with the job in hand, and that is what we did here.”
Mourinho clashed with a number of senior figures in the United dressing room over his two-and-a-half seasons in charge.
One of the most high-profile players the Portuguese had a public spat with was World Cup-winner Paul Pogba.
But the Frenchman, who was restored to the starting line-up for the first time in four league games and was instrumental in setting up four of United’s five goals, thanked his former boss for helping him “improve as a person.”
“We won trophies with Jose and I want to thank him for that,” he said.
“He makes me improve, as a person as well, and that’s it. That’s the past, I want to thank him for that.
I’m sure that is the same for all the players and now we are looking forward to the next game,” he added.
Pogba said he and his teammates were now focused on helping United “go back to the top of the league” after they scored five goals in a league game for the first time since the final game of Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign in 2013.
“The performance of the team was great and we are happy that the first game of the manager starts like this,” he said. “It’s important now to carry on like that.
“We cannot play like this and win with five goals and then the next game lose.”


Leonard stars as Raptors claw back with win over Bucks

Updated 20 May 2019
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Leonard stars as Raptors claw back with win over Bucks

  • Milwaukee’s MVP finalist Giannis Antetokounmpo struggles to just 12 points
  • He then fouled out in the first minute of the second overtime period

LOS ANGELES: Kawhi Leonard scored eight of his 36 points in the second overtime period Sunday to lead the Toronto Raptors to a gritty 118-112 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Eastern Conference finals.
The Raptors, who dropped the first two games of the best-of-seven series in Milwaukee, clawed their way back to 2-1 in front of home fans and will try to level the set when they host game four on Tuesday.
Pascal Siakam scored 25 points and Spanish center Marc Gasol added 16 for the Raptors, who got off to a quick start and led much of the night but had to battle to put the Bucks away.
“We just played a lot tougher,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “We were up guarding, we were physical. We were ready to play tonight.”
Milwaukee’s Most Valuable Player finalist Giannis Antetokounmpo struggled to just 12 points on five-of-16 shooting.
Antetokounmpo’s 23 rebounds helped the Bucks stay in touch, but he didn’t reach double figures in points until the middle of the fourth quarter and he produced eight of the Bucks’ 20 turnovers.
Antetokounmpo fouled out in the first minute of the second overtime period.
Moments later the Bucks managed to edge ahead 105-103 — taking the lead for the first time since Antetokounmpo scored the game’s opening basket — but Leonard and the Raptors roared back.
Leonard’s steal and dunk put Toronto ahead 112-109 and his driving bank shot gave Toronto a 114-110 lead with 32.4 seconds remaining.
Leonard played a key role in limiting Antetokounmpo and Nurse said his defensive play was “probably the biggest key of the game.”
“Not only did he just play good, but he made some huge plays with some steals and rip-aways and break aways,” Nurse said.
“Offense was hard to come by there for both teams for a while and any time you can get a steal and a break out it’s a huge momentum play.”
Toronto had a chance to win it in regulation, but they let a 96-91 lead slip away in the final 1:13 of the fourth quarter.
Milwaukee guard Khris Middleton’s putback basket from his own miss with 2.2 seconds left in regulation forced overtime.
The Raptors led 103-99 with 1:29 remaining in the first extra session.
But Malcolm Brogdon floated in a shot and George Hill drained two free throws to tie it before Leonard’s jump shot fell short.
The Raptors overcame a slow night from Kyle Lowry, who scored 11 points before fouling out with 6:12 left in the fourth.
Although Leonard scored 19 points in the fourth quarter and both overtimes, some grimaces from the Raptors star sparked concerns he might be injured.
“I’m feeling all right,” he said. “This is playoff basketball. Everybody’s hurting, you just have to keep fighting.”
Hill led the Bucks with 24 points and fellow reserve Brogdon added 20. Center Brook Lopez led the Bucks starters with 16 points.
“I feel like we gave ourselves several chances,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We weren’t able to get over the hump.
“When you have opportunities you’ve got to make them and we didn’t quite make enough of our good ones. I think we’ll be better in game four, Giannis, everybody.”