Erik hails De Gea heroics

Sunday 28 May 2023 20:55

Erik ten Hag highlighted David De Gea’s first-half penalty save against Fulham as evidence that he and his team-mates can continue improving, as our no.1’s crucial stop inspired the Reds to claim a 2-1 turnaround win on the final day of the Premier League season.

Fewer than 10 minutes after United had gone behind to Kenny Tete’s header, Fulham were awarded a 26th-minute spot-kick, after Casemiro’s foul on Tom Cairney in our own penalty area.

The prospect of trailing by two looked to be on the horizon at that point, but De Gea produced a superb diving save to prevent Aleksandar Mitrovic’s low strike from finding the right-hand corner of the goal, in front of the Stretford End.

United went on to claim the victory thanks to goals from Jadon Sancho and Bruno Fernandes, which came within 10 minutes either side of the half-time interval.

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When asked by reporters about De Gea’s performance in his post-match press conference, Ten Hag said: “I think it shows even at that age, you can progress. It was a great save.

“A real step up in his performance and I think that it’s similar for our team during the season, good is not good enough and you have to do better.

“It was a great save in the right moment in the game because, 2-0 down, then it’s going to be difficult to win the game.

“From there on, we turned the game, and we win the game, so yeah, I’m happy with the performance from today from my team.”

Ten Hag repeatedly spoke of the significant save in his media debrief, also describing it as the ‘biggest moment’ in the game, and explaining that it led to his team showing an improved spirit in their display.

He added: “I think after the save of David, it was the turning point and I think we woke up, so a very good wake-up from David, a great save.”

De Gea has formed part of a stern United backline in domestic league action this term, playing in all 38 Premier League matches and recording 17 clean sheets in the 2022/23 campaign.

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As a result, he won the Premier League’s ‘Golden Glove’ award for the most shutouts of any goalkeeper during the season – with his final figure three more than his nearest competitors.

David also became our record appearance-holder for a goalkeeper, and record clean-sheet holder, during 2022/23 – overtaking Alex Stepney and Peter Schmeichel in those rankings, respectively.