Magic Mata: We're in Germany to stay!
Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata says that he and his team-mates are determined to stay in Germany for as long as possible, after a 1-0 win over FC Copenhagen sealed the Reds' place in the Europa League semi-finals.
The Spaniard entered the match against the Danes at the start of extra-time, and made a near-immediate impact by creating two chances for Anthony Martial within four minutes.
The second of those chances drew the foul which earned United a decisive penalty, converted, as coolly as ever, by Bruno Fernandes.
Mata admitted the squad were relieved after a tough 120 minutes against stubborn and enterprising opposition, but felt the manner of victory underlined the club's determination to win the competition for a second time.
“I would say that today is more relief, to be honest, and tiredness!” our no.8 told BT Sport. “I think the team is quite tired physically, and you could see in the game, it wasn't the best of the games. But at this stage of the season, with so many games behind [us], so many months, it's very important to win games like we did today, and we go through.
“We came to Germany with the aim of staying for quite some time, and hopefully we can go on and win this tournament.”
Mata provided two assists in our last game in the Europa League, against LASK, and his cameo here was equally emphatic, but the typically modest 32-year-old said he was able to influence proceedings because of the heat and the weariness of the Scandinavians.“I think it's normal that that happens [the game opens up in extra-time], because both teams get a little more tired, and there are more spaces, there are more chances. We could have scored more goals to be honest in extra-time but, yeah, we are through.”
The World Cup-winner was also keen to pay his respects to Copenhagen, for whom goalkeeper Karl-Johan Johnsson made an incredible 13 saves.
“The first half wasn't easy at all,” assessed Mata. “They defended very well and they played some good football, so credit to them.“They are a good team. They played some great football in the last game when they qualified. So we knew we had to play a good game of our own, and try to create as many chances as we could, like we did.
“We scored one goal, but of course we're happier when we score more than one goal. But overall, it's time to recover, to train, and wait for the rival in the next round, and try to win.”With their place in the semis confirmed, Solskjaer's team now prepare for a 61st game of an epic season on Sunday, where we will meet either Wolverhampton Wanderers or Sevilla in the same stadium.
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