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Chris Smalling celebrates his winning goal against Manchester City

Smalling: It was great to make amends

Chris Smalling admits he was mightily relieved to score United's winner in the Manchester derby after being culpable when Vincent Kompany headed in City's opener.

The Reds centre-back produced a finish that any forward would have been proud of when he volleyed home Alexis Sanchez's free-kick cross to make the final score 3-2 but he acknowledged that he could have done his day job better during a difficult first half.

“The first half was terrible, apart from the first 15 minutes when there was nothing in it,”
Smalling said.
“Then we dropped off and didn’t play our game, and [City] could have been out of sight.

"I think there were some honest words said at half-time. We were feeling sorry for ourselves but we needed to make sure we played with pride. We needed to show more character and stand up tall and give the fans something back.
“We didn't want to be the clowns watching City win that trophy and I think you saw us really stand up in that second half. That second-half performance was for our fans.

We were 2-0 down at City who have been fantastic at home all season, but we stepped up and won the game. I thought we fully deserved it in the end.
As for his own part in the tale of two halves, he added:
“When you have made a mistake like I did for the first goal, you want an opportunity to make amends and luckily it came. You could see the relief in my face.

"When you get a chance to make amends and contribute a goal it's a great feeling. And there's no better feeling than scoring a winner in a derby.

Goals: City 2 United 3Video

Smalling recognised that his match-winning platform was primarily built by two attacking stars, namely Alexis and the scorer of United's first two goals, Paul Pogba.

“It's fantastic when those sorts of players are in that sort of form,”
said the defender.

'Second half had absolutely everything' Video

“Alexis is always looking to thread those balls through and Paul's runs are a danger to any team so it's good that they've been able to link up together.

"You never see Paul hide and you saw 11 players stand up today when it would have been easy to crumble at 2-0 when it looked 90 per cent like it was going to be City's win.

“It was a great turnaround and this is definitely putting down a marker for the rest of the season and beyond. It's about making sure we own second spot in the league and getting to that FA Cup final. Next year we'll kick on.”

Pogba: That win was for the fansVideo

Chris Smalling was speaking to MUTV and Sky Sports.

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