Battering Barca, humbling United at Old Trafford - Mourinho's best Champions League nights

Tue 28 April 2020 | 16:09

From bursting on to the scene with Porto to masterminding Inter's all-conquering season, Jose Mourinho has revelled in the Champions League.

Ten years ago today, Jose Mourinho was luxuriating in "the most beautiful defeat of my life" after Inter's rearguard frustrated Barcelona in the Champions League semi-finals.

A 1-0 loss on the night meant a 3-2 aggregate triumph that famously persuaded Mourinho to cavort boisterously across the Camp Nou turf.

Inter would go on to complete a stunning treble in 2009-10, sweeping all before them in Italy and beating Bayern Munich in that season's European final.

It was Mourinho's second title in Europe's top competition after he masterminded Porto's unlikely march to glory in 2003-04 – a success that set up one of the most celebrated coaching careers of the 21st century.

Here, we look at some of the inimitable Portuguese's greatest games in the competition that launched him to prominence.


Mourinho probably doesn't often ponder the importance of Tim Howard when assessing his decorated career. But, if the USA international had gathered Benny McCarthy's free-kick during injury time at Old Trafford, a defining chain of events in early 20th century football would not have unfolded as it did.

Trailing 2-1 due to a McCarthy brace in the first leg, United edged ahead of the UEFA Cup holders on away goals through Paul Scholes' first-half header. From that point until the dying moments, the young Mourinho looked like simply becoming the latest bright young victim of Alex Ferguson in Europe.

But Howard fumbled, collided with his post and could do nothing as Costinho converted the rebound. Overcoat flapping in the Manchester night, off Mourinho tore down the touchline. Porto were into the quarter-finals and would go on to win the whole thing, dismissing Monaco 3-0 in the final. That sent Mourinho to Chelsea, where he declared himself to be a "Special One" at his unveiling news conference.


Despite winning back-to-back Premier League titles during his first spell at Stamford Bridge, Mourinho was unable to conquer Europe with Chelsea. However, this stirring, rollercoaster affair in west London will continue to live long in the memory.

Nursing a 2-1 deficit from a first leg doused in acrimony – the flames of which were fanned by Mourinho himself – Chelsea set about their illustrious opponents in riotous fashion. Eidur Gudjohnsen, Frank Lampard and Damien Duff made light of Didier Drogba's suspension to have the Blues 3-0 up inside 19 minutes.

Ronaldinho then reduced the deficit with an impudent touch of genius at the edge of the box and the Brazilian magician's penalty meant Barca were ahead on away goals before the break. Petr Cech had to produce heroics to keep the Blaugrana at bay during the second period before John Terry decisively powered home Duff's 76th-minute corner.


The glorious nuisance value of the former Barca employee frustrating the club who turned him down in 2008 means 10-man Inter scraping through in Catalonia is the defining memory of this semi-final. However, as in the Chelsea triumph above, Mourinho showed his teams could combine thrill and efficiency during the initial encounter at San Siro.

Pep Guardiola's reigning European champions had to travel to Milan by coach due to the disruption to European air travel caused by the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland and the resulting volcanic ash cloud. Pedro's opening goal suggested Barcelona were fully up to speed, only for the Nerazzurri to comprehensively outplay them.

Wesley Sneijder, enjoying the season of his career, levelled and Maicon gave Inter an early second-half lead. Diego Milito set up both those goals before making it 3-1. The Argentina forward would also be Inter's final hero, netting a brace to down Bayern at the Santiago Bernabeu – Mourinho's next port of call.


Mourinho's capacity for irritating Barcelona undoubtedly played a part in his Madrid appointment and his stock was never higher than after Inter conquered all. He failed to scale those heights in the Spanish capital, however, with semi-final defeats a feature of each of his three seasons at the helm.

In the last of those seasons, Madrid kicked off their bid for glory in thrilling fashion against Manchester City in the group stage. After a circumspect and goalless first half, the Premier League champions twice led through Edin Dzeko and Aleksandar Kolarov. Marcelo and Karim Benzema swiftly cancelled the deficit each time, leaving Cristiano Ronaldo to thrash home a last-gasp winner – prompting another on-field celebration from a knee-sliding Mourinho.

CHELSEA 2–0 PSG (2014)

A second spell at Chelsea yielded one more Premier League title and ended in deep disappointment after an alarming start to the 2015-16 season. Before all that unfolded, he was off and down the touchline once more as the Blues dramatically sank Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain.

Staring at a 3-1 deficit from the first leg of the quarter-final tie, Chelsea battled back to prevail on away goals. Losing Eden Hazard to injury early on looked to have stacked the odds too heavily against the hosts but Andre Schurrle, on in place of the Belgium star, reduced the arrears.

Another unlikely hero from the bench, Demba Ba, bundled home three minutes from time to spark scenes of delirium. Unfortunately for Chelsea, they ran into Diego Simeone's formidable Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals and PSG earned revenge in the round of 16 the following season.


Mourinho's United reign had arguably already suffered the blow from which it would never recover during the previous season's Champions League, when Sevilla saw off their limp challenge at Old Trafford.

However, this group stage encounter offered hints of what might have been. Ronaldo thumped a stunning over-the-shoulder volley past David de Gea to give Juve a 65th-minute lead that remained intact until Juan Mata's delightful free-kick leveller with five to play.

Juventus were rattled and Leonardo Bonucci put Ashley Young's free-kick through his own goal. Ex-Inter boss Mourinho revelled in the celebrations, cupping his ear to the home supporters from the field. A month later, he was out of a job after United lost to Liverpool at Anfield.

source: SportMob