Juan Mata has explained that Manchester United’s 4-1 victory was extra special because of the manner of the win.
The Reds came from behind to dismantle Newcastle with relative ease in the second half. Dwight Gayle opened the scoring for the Magpies but an onslaught from Man United in the closing stages of the first half saw Anthony Martial equalise from a wonderful bit of play by the returning Paul Pogba. Chris Smalling then put the Reds in front, heading in from a good Ashley Young cross in added time of the first half.
Mata wrote, in his weekly blog, that United felt it was far more than just a standard win because they had to come from behind to get the three points. That’s not something Jose Mourinho’s side have down that frequently this season.
“The truth is, Saturday’s victory was special because it was our first comeback win of the season,” Mata explained.
“So far, in most of the games, we had scored first and won. Against Newcastle, though, we conceded a goal and then we had to come back, and the way we did it illustrated our ambition and character.
“Newcastle are always a tough opponent, a well-crafted team with good players, but we were able to defeat them with a complete performance from the whole team.”
United looked shaky early on, not living up to the excitement generated when it was announced that Pogba was making his return from injury, as well as the trio of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marcos Rojo and Marouane Fellaini returning as substitutes.
Gayle’s goal was a deserved one for Newcastle, who countered well, but United pushed harder and harder as the half went on to equalise. They were rewarded with Martial’s equaliser and then didn’t relax at 1-1, something that Mourinho has done before. Instead, they pushed again for the final eight minutes and Smalling headed them in front in added time.
After the break, United continued with the momentum and were rarely challenged after that. Mata is correct, he and his teammates showed good character to make it nine wins from nine at home in the Premier League this season, a post-war club record.