Saturday, 20 October 2018

Sarri apologies to Mourinho after Ianni sparks touchline scuffle

By Alistair Hendrie

Maurizio Sarri has apologised to Manchester United after Chelsea assistant coach Marco Ianni celebrated his team’s 96-minute equaliser on Saturday by running past the visitors’ bench and pumping his fists.

Sarri, who brought Ianni with him from Napoli in the summer, condemned his assistant for provoking Jose Mourinho, who had to be held back by stewards and United staff in a touchline melee.

The Chelsea manager claimed he would speak to Ianni in private and was quick to accept the blame for a fracas which ended with players and staff from both teams in a scrum of pushing and shoving in front of the tunnel.

“I didn’t see anything on the pitch, but after the match I spoke with José and immediately understood that we are wrong,” Sarri said. “I have spoken with the member of my staff and then I bring him to speak with Mourinho to say sorry to him. I think it is finished. We made a mistake. We were in the wrong.”

“I have dealt with the situation immediately,” he said. “I have to speak to him again because I want to be sure he is able to understand that it was a big mistake. I have to view everything. Now the situation is between me and the staff face to-face.”

Ross Barkley secured a point for Sarri’s side, bringing the west Londoners back into the fold after two goals from Anthony Martial cancelled out Anthony Rudiger’s opener.

The hosts were good value for a point after dominating the first half and Chelsea now extend their record to one defeat in 17 against United at Stamford Bridge.

"We were in control, tactically - the result is really unfair for us” said Mourinho. “We conceded from two set-pieces, but that is a way to score goals and you have to be able to defend against that.

Discussing the touchline scuffle, he added: "It is not my reaction, it is Sarri's assistant. He was very impolite but Sarri took care of the situation. They have both apologised to me. I accept. For me, the story is over.”

Chelsea took the lead after 20 minutes when Anthony Rudiger leapt unchallenged by the penalty spot to nod in Wilian’s out-swinging corner. Although Rudiger connected with authority, Paul Pogba was at fault for losing his man.

However, Martial’s double turned things in United’s favour in the second half as the forward scored against Chelsea for the first time in his career.

The French international netted his first with 54 minutes gone, killing a loose ball with his thigh and half-volleying in from 18 yards out. He earned his brace just over twenty minutes later, nudging Marcus Rashford’s pass out of his feet and slotting inside the far post from a similar distance to his equaliser.

Barkley, substituted on for Mateo Kovacic, pulled the home side level by converting a rebound in a mad scramble during which David Luiz hit the post and Rudiger had an initial rebound saved.

Sarri added: "We have played very well in the first hour but then we have played the match of United - a physical match, and United are better than us in a physical match. I am disappointed with the last 30 minutes. We could win but at the end one point is enough.

To read more of Alistair Hendrie's work, buy his Kindle book, Fight Game: The Untold Story of Women's MMA in Britain

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