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Courtois accuses Mourinho of mind games and cynical tactics

Thibaut Courtois has praised Chelsea for not falling victim to Jose Mourinho and Manchester United's "mind games".

thibaut courtois - cropped
Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois

Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has accused Jose Mourinho's Manchester United of trying to use mind games and a dirty style of play in Monday's FA Cup quarter-final.

Holders United were beaten 1-0 at Stamford Bridge thanks to N'Golo Kante's second-half strike, although the contest became one-sided when Ander Herrera picked up a second yellow card after 34 minutes.

Mourinho praised his players for their effort in difficult circumstances, but opposite number Antonio Conte accused United of targeting Eden Hazard prior to Herrera's dismissal.

Courtois - who won the Premier League and the EFL Cup during Mourinho's second spell as Chelsea manager - hailed his team-mates for refusing to allow United's cynical approach to disrupt their game.

"They made a lot of fouls and they were very hard," said the Belgium goalkeeper. "[It's] the style of Mourinho but I think that Ander Herrera paid the price for his team-mates because I think [Phil] Jones just before made a fifth foul on Eden and then Herrera made another foul on him seconds later. 

"Then he must give a yellow card and unfortunately for Herrera, he already had a yellow card.

"They tried to come into our minds, with fouling and kicking to try to destabilise us. They are the mind games that they tried to play. They get that from their manager.

"You can expect that Manchester can play two ways. They can play their footballing way but, obviously, without [Anthony] Martial and [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic, they can play a different game.

"That's what they did and I think they tried to defend well. In the beginning we could see how they were playing and we have players with football intelligence who can handle that. 

"We didn't fall for their trap. We played our game and did it our way, as we have been doing for six months or so. We did it well; unfortunately we couldn't find another goal and finish it earlier, but I think it is good to go to Wembley and the mission is to go to the final and win it."

Chelsea will meet Tottenham in the semi-final and Courtois is expecting a difficult encounter against a team who beat them at White Hart Lane on January 4.

"We beat them at home and they beat us away," he said. "I think they are a top side as well. It is nice for the English league to see four top teams in the semi-finals. I don't think it is often that that happens, so it is a big game for us."

Striker Harry Kane sustained an ankle injury in Spurs' 6-0 quarter-final win over Millwall but Courtois anticipates the England international will return in time for the showdown at Wembley.

"Ankle injuries can appear very bad, but then it is three weeks," he said. "They have the international break [to let him recover]. The semi-final is almost at the end of April. He might be fit. We will see what happens in April."

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