Juan Mata has expressed his delight at Manchester United reaching the FA Cup final with a composed win over Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley on Saturday.
Dele Alli gave Mauricio Pochettino’s side an early lead but Man United, following a few choice words from Jose Mourinho on the touchline, recovered brilliantly and sent ahead through goals from Alexis Sanchez and Ander Herrera.
The result means United will take on Chelsea, who beat Southampton 2-0 on Sunday, on May 19 – the day of the Royal Wedding – in the FA Cup final and a repeat of the first final ever played at the new Wembley.
And Mata, writing in his weekly blog, praised the way his teammates fought back to knock Spurs out and book a return to Wembley.
“Two wins in the same week, including the ticket to the FA Cup final, have been a boost of confident for the team in order to face with optimism the last five games: two games at home, two more away and the visit to Wembley to close the season,” he said.
“The victory in Bournemouth was important to remain strong in the second spot of the Premier League table. Winning the title must be the goal of Manchester United always but, since we won’t make it this year, we have to keep hold of that second place.
“The semi-final against Tottenham was the best way to complete a positive week because it gives us the opportunity to play for a very special title. I’ve been so lucky to win it twice and I can tell you that it is something different, in a competition with so much history behind, at Wembley…
“Last Saturday was strangely warm for April, and I saw the trouble that the high temperatures caused in the London marathon the following day. Spurs are always a tough opponent. They are a compact team, with a well-defined football style and very talented players.
“And they scored first, but we were determined to fight for this title until the end and we came back with goals from Alexis and Ander. We will be back to Wembley in a month, this time against Chelsea, which makes the final even more special for me.”
The FA Cup final remains an occasion like no other, and this latest instalment promises to be iconic: a national holiday, the whole country in a kind of joyous, relaxed mood because of weird royal reasons, the sun shining, pubs absolutely packed, the World Cup just round the corner. There aren’t many days that will see the nation come together in such universal fashion.
And United, by brilliantly dismantling Spurs, have ensured they will be there amongst it. The occasion alone is tantalising, gargantuan – let alone the prospect of seeing who out of Mourinho or Conte gets the last laugh of the season in the traditional – and, in my view at least, still glorious – curtain closer for the campaign.