‘They have personality’ - Mata points to De Gea’s save as crucial to United’s win over City

Juan Mata and the United players celebrate after Marcus Rashford's penalty put the hosts 2-0 up agai

Juan Mata and the United players celebrate after Marcus Rashford's penalty put the hosts 2-0 up against Norwich Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Juan Mata felt Manchester United exploited Norwich City’s bravery with the ball at Old Trafford but admitted a “great save” from David De Gea was required to thwart the Canaries with the game still in the balance.

The Red Devils were 4-0 winners eventually but Spain star De Gea superbly denied a Todd Cantwell effort shortly before half-time, preventing an equaliser which could have made for a very different afternoon.

Instead the hosts were able to move through the gears and stay five points adrift of the top four, after a three-game wobble of a 2-0 league loss at Arsenal, a 0-0 draw at Wolves in the FA Cup and a 3-1 home loss to Manchester City in the first leg of their League Cup semi-final.

"It was a good performance and a performance that we needed," said Mata. "It is a performance we can look at and see how we can play and make sure we play like that on a more consistent basis.

"Norwich are a team that tries to play out from the back and they dare to play that way. They have personality. I like the way they try to play, obviously they are not getting results because this is the Premier League but if you don't have a good day they can play, have the possession and they can create chances like the one they had in the first half that David (De Gea) made a great save from."

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The former Chelsea midfielder however felt United's performance in the first half was one of the best of the their season so far.

Speaking to MUTV, he continued: "What we tried to do was get the ball as soon as possible and control the game and to create chances," he added. "We did that from the first minute. There were four or five minutes at the end of the first half when we lost our concentration a little bit but, overall, it was a very good half and one of the best of the season. It was a complete performance and we need to keep that going and relax in every game.

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"But it is only one game, it is only three points but the feeling was very good.

"What we have to try to do is bring that feeling for the next game against Wolves [in the FA Cup replay on Wednesday night] and in the Premier League against Liverpool at Anfield [next Sunday], which is a big one.

"We have to keep going. Days like today make you happy and that is what we have to do."

United's first and third goals were created by fine crosses from the right from the left-footed Spaniard, converted by Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial respectively.

"It was one of the moves we did in training," the 31-year-old said of Rashford's opener. "When I play on the right and come inside, I like to make those crosses for our strikers and it was a good finish from Marcus. We are happy with that. We felt we could do it and we did it.

"It was one of those days I enjoyed being on the pitch and we all did. I think the fans will be happy. That is important for us because, we have to be honest, we have given them some disappointments this season that they don't deserve. But I think, today, they will be happy and that is important to me."

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