A provocative character himself, Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho praised the Spanish leader’s patience and discipline as the keys to the best winning run of his career after the team’s 13th straight victory in all competitions.
But the Portuguese coach didn’t deny his team won ugly on Saturday, Madrid rallying to beat nine-man Atletico Madrid 4-1 in a fractious match for its ninth straight league victory.
That took Madrid six points clear after Barcelona lost 1-0 at Getafe for its first defeat this season. The team has never had such a sizeable lead over its main rival since Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola took charge in 2008.
Mourinho may have won two European Cups and domestic league and cup trophies during stints at FC Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan, but he has never won so many consecutive games. Four of Madrid’s five victories in the Champions League group stage count toward the streak.
”We have played very well, we have always played with motivation,” Mourinho said from Santiago Bernabeu stadium. ”We showed emotional control throughout, like tonight, and patience. The team knows that while we can play aggressively, we must also show patience.”
Keeping cool was particularly necessary in a match in which five Atletico players were booked besides the two straight red cards, to goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and defender Diego Godin, either side of the break.
”We didn’t want to play an ugly, tough game. But we played and we won,” the 48-year-old Mourinho said. ”I would have liked it if we had played a nicer game, because if I’m a spectator and I paid I would have liked that more, but that’s the way it is.”
Mourinho has often been criticized for defensive tactics, but Madrid scored another four goals to take its season tally to 46 from 13 games. Madrid’s seventh straight win over Atletico pushed its 12-year unbeaten run against its city neighbor to 22 games.
Much of Spain is transfixed on Madrid’s winning run and whether it will still be going by the time of the Dec. 10 clasico match against defending champion Barcelona at the Bernabeu.
”A draw or loss will come,” Mourinho said. ”But the important thing is that in these 13 games we’ve played well.”