Mourinho to knuckle down

Angel Di Maria struck a late winner to keep Real Madrid within touching distance of Barcelona – and coach Jose Mourinho said the manner of the victory would make his players stronger (10/3 Real Madrid – Champions League outright).

Di Maria scored in the 77th minute of a bad-tempered La Liga clash against Sevilla at the Bernabeu in which Ricardo Carvalho and Mouhamadou Dabo were sent off for both teams.

Barca had chalked up another impressive win on Saturday night by thumping Catalan rivals Espanyol and Mourinho said it was vital his players stayed on their coat tails.

Reflecting on the win, the Portuguese coach said: “My team is from another world. It has otherworldly character. It did the impossible with the absence of important men. I am more than happy with my side.”

Mourinho could not resist a dig at critics who had dared to suggest the capital club were now just also-rans in the slipstream of their bitter rivals.

He added: “I am calm thanks to the excellent work all my players did tonight. The match had the perfect conditions for Barcelona’s cushion over us to grow larger. We lacked two players for practically doing nothing wrong against Zaragoza.

“Tonight’s victory will be very frustrating for those who wanted us to lag four or five points behind Barcelona. This makes us stronger. Everything was ripe for us to drop points, but we didn’t.”

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