Nemanja Matic singled out Chris Smalling as his star man in United’s magnificent comeback win over rivals Manchester City.
The defender scored the decisive goal on Saturday as the Reds mounted a stunning second-half revival to emerge victorious in a pulsating derby at the Etihad Stadium.
By his own admission, Smalling felt he was culpable for Vincent Kompany’s opening goal as City took a 2-0 lead into the half-time interval. But the Reds came out fighting after the break and the no.12 went on to net his third Manchester derby goal in the 3-2 triumph.
“I think Chris Smalling was the main star,” Matic made a point of telling MUTV after the dramatic victory, which denied Pep Guardiola’s side the chance to secure the Premier League title.
When asked where the sweet success ranks in terms of this season’s achievements, the midfielder added:
“I think this is the best game for our fans because I know what this game means for them, especially when we knew that, if they [City] won this game, they would be champions and we didn’t allow them to celebrate in front of our supporters.
“I think it’s the most important [game] and for our supporters, it was the best way to show the pride and the best way to show how we fight for our club.”
The brace capped a virtuoso display from the dynamic Frenchman, who led from the front – something Matic feels his midfield team-mate is capable of doing in this United team.
“With his personality, Paul needs to be our main player because he plays in that position and he needs to take responsibility,”the Serbian added.
“Don’t forget that he has had an injury this season – he was out for three months and it’s not easy to come back after that.
“The people always expect a lot from you when you play for Man United – we know that this is normal. But he is still young and he can still improve. Today, he showed character and personality. If you saw him in the last 10 minutes, he was fighting a lot for the team and helping the team.”