Defiant Mourinho insists United's title challenge still on

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho insisted his side's Premier League title ambitions were still intact despite a 1-0 loss away to former club Chelsea.

Alvaro Morata's 55th-minute goal at Stamford Bridge was enough to give reigning champions Chelsea victory yesterday morning (Singapore time) and leave United eight points behind in-form leaders Manchester City.

But, Mourinho, despite a third straight loss at Stamford Bridge since he became United manager, downplayed the significance of the gap.

He told Sky Sports: "We are second - not fifth, sixth or seventh or eighth.

"We have several teams in a more difficult position than we have. Eight points is eight points.

"We went through a very difficult phase with important matches against Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea without important players."

The Portuguese added: "We had chances and they had chances, and with the first goal they were able to bring more people to defend.

"We tried to change the direction of our game, we created chances to equalise but we couldn't.

"We had chances. If I remember, (Romelu) Lukaku shot in the first half and in the last part of the game with the (Marcus) Rashford shot... We had lots of chances to score goals."

It was a sentiment shared by midfielder Ander Herrera, who told United's official website: "It's disappointing for us because we came here to win, we pressed them and we created a couple of good chances."

Teammate Chris Smalling went one step further, claiming the Red Devils "controlled large parts of the game".

Victory saw Chelsea move to within nine points of top spot and eased the pressure on the London club's Italian manager Antonio Conte following a 3-0 loss away to Roma in the Champions League last week.

"It's an important victory," said Conte. "When you play against Manchester United, it's always a massive game.

"This type of win is important for our confidence. We showed great desire and passion to win this kind of game.

"We can win or lose but our spirit must be this.

"Last season, our spirit was in every game - we started this season with a lot of problems. We were up and down.

"This game showed if we want, we can."

Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas added that the Blues "played like a big team".

He told Sky Sports: "We had plenty of chances, especially in the first half, but we could have killed it off in the second half...

"We played like a big team, defended like a big team and we have to be proud."

Fabregas' compatriot Alvaro Morata, too, was proud, saying his winner was "for sure" his most important goal in a Chelsea jersey. - WIRE SERVICES

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