Football

Manchester United among Europa League favourites: Jose Mourinho

Manchester United are one of the favourites to win the Europa League following their Champions League exit at the hands of RB Leipzig, Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho said yesterday.

United needed a draw to qualify for the last 16 but were punished for a sloppy start and slumped to a 3-2 defeat, a result that left them third in the group to ensure they drop down to Europe's second-tier competition.

"The teams that drop from the Champions League are strong and normally don't belong to the level of the Europa League," Mourinho, who led United to the Europa League trophy in 2017, told reporters ahead of their home game against Antwerp tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

"United are one of the top teams. The group was very hard with Paris Saint-Germain and Leipzig. We knew it was not going to be easy for any of them."

The other Group H game, between PSG and Istanbul Basaksehir at the Parc des Princes, was suspended in the 14th minute when fourth official Sebastian Coltescu was accused of directing a racist term towards the Turkish club's assistant coach Pierre Webo.

Mourinho, condemning the incident, said the game would go down in history for all the wrong reasons.

"Of course, (the fourth official) made an unacceptable mistake but only he can open his heart, apologise and accept the consequences," he said.

Mourinho added that fullback Serge Aurier will miss the game against Antwerp and midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg could be rested but France midfielder Tanguy Ndombele is fit and in line to start.

Spurs are second in Group J with 10 points but can displace Antwerp at the top with a win. In the reverse fixture in Belgium in October, Spurs lost 1-0. - REUTERS

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