Jose Mourinho was fulsome in his praise for experienced Juventus defenders Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci after they shut out his Manchester United side in the Champions League.
Paulo Dybala's 17th-minute goal was enough to extend Juve's perfect Group H record to three wins from three on Tuesday as Cristiano Ronaldo made a winning return to Old Trafford.
United struggled to break the Serie A champions down, although Paul Pogba hit the post with a late effort that rebounded to safety off Juve goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.
Bonucci revealed in the build-up to the match he turned down the chance to sign for United as he instead opted to rejoin Juve after a single year with AC Milan.
And Mourinho was clear that Italy defenders Chiellini and Bonucci made the difference against United, who have won just one of their last seven games in all competitions.
"In the other side was huge quality and sometimes when we speak about quality people look for Cristiano, Dybala or [Miralem] Pjanic," Mourinho said to BT Sport.
"But in a top team you have to look to Chiellini and Bonucci, Juventus are this kind of team when they are in front it's very, very difficult for them to concede.
"Our attacking players were not with, I say it in a funny way, 'honey in their feet', but everyone tried and everyone was strong to try to the end.
"Juventus felt it and instead of their control in the first half they had to defend and added an extra central defender [Andrea Barzagli] to the amazing Chiellini and Bonucci.
"Really difficult for us. I thought before and during the game we could take something but we couldn't manage to score."
Mourinho appeared to aim another barb at United's board for not investing in defenders as he expanded on his praise for Juve's defensive duo.
"I have to say they [Juve] are a different level and if people don't want to accept that it's their problem," Mourinho added.
"They are a different level of stability, experience and knowhow and at the base of the team they have Bonucci and Chiellini, it allows them to play with the freedom in attack, creating and losing the ball, 'no problem, we are here'.
"With the effort of the boys we deserved a draw but it was not possible. I have no complaints with my boys, a positive feeling to the effort, and on Sunday we have another match."
United return to action in the Premier League against Everton on Sunday.
18. Januar 2019
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