Nemanja Matic playing for Manchester United against FC Astana in the Europa League.

Matic proud to captain United to victory

Friday 20 September 2019 08:24

Nemanja Matic was proud to captain Manchester United to victory on Thursday night, in our 1-0 Europa League win over FC Astana.

The Reds left it late to overcome the Kazakhstani side, but Mason Greenwood’s 73rd-minute strike ensured all three points were taken from the opening match of the European campaign.

For Matic, who previously played in the final of the tournament with Benfica in 2013, Thursday’s game had added significance because he skippered United.

Speaking after the match, the Serbian revealed how humbled he was to be selected to wear the armband.
Watch our full post-match interview with Matic on Thursday.
“It was an honour to captain this club,” Matic told us. “To be given the responsibility, I’m very proud of that and I hope that it’s not the last time. It’s a big responsibility and I’m proud of that, of course.”

The 31-year-old was certainly one of the more experienced heads against Astana, after Solskjaer fielded a team with an average age under 25.

Matic feels his youthful team-mates more than held their own in the Europa League clash.

“Yeah, there were a lot of young guys in the squad,” he said. “I think after Sergio Romero I was the oldest in the team. But it was nice for me.

“The youngsters that played tonight, they played well - they gave their best and this is the most important thing.”

While many inside Old Trafford on Thursday may have hoped for a relatively comfortable three points, Nemanja knew it would be far from an easy night against Astana.

In fact, the midfielder revealed he knew first-hand of the qualities that the Kazakhstani side possessed.

“The three points are always the most important,” he said. “I think we should score some goals in the first half to open the game and in the second half try to score more.

“At half-time it was 0-0, and they became more difficult for us. They dropped back, they waited for the counter attack. They are not bad, they have some experienced players, some that I have played with in the national team.

“We knew it, we saw some videos before the game, we knew what to expect. Next time we have to open the game early to score in the first 20/25 minutes. But, of course, we will learn from this, and I’m very happy we got three points against a very good team.”

Matic also reserved some kind words for Man-of-the-Match Greenwood.

“He has that talent that a Manchester United player needs to have,” said Nemanja. “If he continues to work hard I think he will be a very important player for our club. I’m happy for him that he scored in the senior squad and I hope that he will continue.”

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