Jose Mourinho slammed his Manchester United stars after they conceded a late equaliser in a 2-2 draw against 10-man Leicester that left them 13 points adrift of leaders Manchester City.
United were already trailing in City’s wake, but Harry Maguire’s 94th-minute leveller at the King Power Stadium on Saturday was another hammer blow to their title hopes just hours after their rivals had beaten Bournemouth.
Mourinho’s side had missed several superb chances to move 3-1 ahead and effectively kill off Leicester and the United boss was furious with his players’ finishing and the sloppy way they allowed Maguire to equalise.
“It is as bad as a defeat,” said Mourinho. “Sometimes you take a point and you say ‘OK’ and you accept it as it was hard to get a positive result.
“That is not the case. It is a game to win easily. It is a big frustration as they are easy goals to score and easy goals to kill the game but not just the goals we missed, also some easy way out to counter-attack where we lost the ball quite easily.
“On top of that, in the last couple of minutes, we allow the opposition to throw a few balls into the box, with Christian Fuchs’ hands and crosses.
“We couldn’t defend the last cross so I think we were punished by our mistakes in both penalty areas.
“There was a lack of maturity. I cannot stop the game and give a team talk,” said Mourinho.
“For the last two minutes the players had to immediately adapt, to read the game, which they didn’t so we had childish decisions in front of goal and bad decisions as it was not just about the goals we missed, or dribbling or hitting the post.
“It was not just about missing chances with an open goal, it was also about decisions. Easy decisions to make in easy transitions to counter-attack.”
Mourinho admitted he does not know whether all of his players will develop the maturity, he needs.
“Some players they have childish decisions and time helps them to have maturity and to decide better but some other players stay with childish decisions until the end of their career,” he said.
“You know it depends on what is inside and the way they learn or they don’t learn.”
Leicester fought back despite having substitute Daniel Amartey sent off for two yellow cards in the space of five minutes.
Foxes manager Claude Puel said: “He took the second yellow card with naivety. Perhaps the first yellow card was a little harsh, but the second he needed to manage better.
“He’s a young player, he came into the game when there was a little pressure, there was intensity, rhythm, it was a difficult to come into the game.
“It was a good game for us against a great team. We started well. It was a fantastic first goal after regaining the possession,” said Puel.
“In the second half we started well also, with quality. We made some fantastic opportunities to score, just after this; we conceded the free kick. And just after it was a little harsh with the sending off of Amartey.
“It was a difficult scenario. We saw fantastic spirit, character of my players. They believed until the end.”