Van Gaal: Mata always plays well for me

While Steven Gerrard stole the headlines, his coach hailed his goals in the 2-1 win at Anfield as United move five points clear of their rivals in the race for fourth place

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal was full of praise for Juan Mata after his double secured a 2-1 win over Liverpool on Sunday.
Mata opened the scoring in the 14th minute with a cool finish from Herrera’s pass and doubled the lead in the 59th minute with a sensational scissor-kick, before Daniel Sturridge pulled one back 10 minutes later.

Mata’s double would have grabbed the headlines on another day but the Spaniard was overshadowed by Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard’s dismissal for a stamp on Ander Herrera just 38 seconds after coming on at half-time.

Van Gaal was delighted to see the attacking midfielder bury two goals, insisting that, even though he does not always pick him, the former Chelsea man always plays well.

“Juan Mata was very good. He has always played well with me in my opinion,” he told Sky Sports. “But sometimes you also need balance in your team and you have to select other players.

“Now he has played very well and did this position very well.

“We played very well in the first half. Maybe as good as against Spurs but in second half we didn’t play very well.

“Like always, when you play against 10 men you forget to press. We had unnecessary ball losses and we brought Liverpool into the game. Most of the players were thinking ‘maybe someone else can do it’.

“We kept the ball and created a lot of possibilities, not big chances, but a lot of possibilities to score. I said whoever could beat the pressure shall win.

“It’s an amazing result for the fans. We now have a gap from positions five, six and seven, which is very important.”

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