David De Gea and Juan Mata

Juan Mata: 'I knew I had to take it'

Thursday 08 November 2018 00:25

Juan Mata has revealed that he asked Manchester United captain and fellow set-piece specialist Ashley Young for permission to take the glorious free-kick that started the Reds' dramatic late comeback against Juventus.

United were behind with less than five minutes remaining, due to a virtuosic volley from former Reds hitman Cristiano Ronaldo, but levelled when the Spaniard clipped home after Paul Pogba was fouled on the edge of the area.
"As soon as there was the free-kick in there, I had the confidence that I had to take it," said United's no.8. "I told Ash: 'Please let me take it, because I can go over the wall.'
'I knew I had to take the free-kick' Video

'I knew I had to take the free-kick'

"Because of the venue and the importance of the game it is one my best free-kicks," admits Juan Mata...

"It's very difficult for the goalkeeper because they don't see a lot [with the wall so close]," added Mata, who was voted Man of the Match by United fans.

"So I tried to do what I do in training a lot of times, practicing, practicing. It was important to score to make it 1-1 and, after, it led us to the 1-2. I think because of the venue and the importance of the game, it's one of the best [that I've scored]."

The midfielder was also full of praise for the personality and mental strength of his team, who posted the first win by an English side in Juventus's new ground, the Allianz Stadium.
"We came back and did the most difficult thing, which is scoring twice when you're losing away against Juventus," explained Juan.

"Fantastic team, fantastic stadium, great atmosphere, very difficult to play against. But this is football and when you have two dangerous free-kicks you have to make the most of them and we did that in the last five minutes, and it was a very, very positive feeling at the end of the game. When you come back to Manchester after suffering that match - especially in the second half, with some chances for them - with the three points, it's a big step in the group stage for us.
"You have to try and stay alive in this stadium, even if they have chances and if they push you and push you," remarked the second-half substitute.
"If you are 1-0 down or 1-1 you have to try to stay alive and take the last chances that you might have, and we have done that today. So you can imagine how the atmosphere in the dressing room is now, and we are very happy as well because we have a lot of fans in that corner [where we scored] as well. So I think they will come back to Manchester with a smile as well.
"I will highlight the passion of the team, the personality of the team, the effort of the team," said the 30-year-old.

"We kept believing we would have one or two chances and maybe score one. A draw is not bad here. But then with Ashley crossing very, very well and I don't know what happened in the box [for the winner] - it seemed like an own goal or something like that - we get a massive three points.

"There are still two games to play but it's a massive step for us in terms of trying to qualify."
The result restored United to second position in Group H, after Valencia had temporarily leapfrogged Jose Mourinho's men by beating Young Boys 3-1 in a match that kicked off two hours earlier, but Mata stressed that there is still work to do.
He continued: "We have two games to go. We have to play against Young Boys at Old Trafford, and we're going to try everything to win and have another three points, and then we go to Valencia which will be a special game for me, like it was today for Paul - coming back to one of the teams that I love - so let's see what happens.
"Today we did a big step, but it's not over yet."

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