Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata said his team’s professionalism was crucial to a comfortable 3-0 win away to League One outfit Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup fifth round.
United were always expected to win the tie, despite their struggle for form in recent weeks, and Mata was pleased to see the side come through the game with relative ease and stay alive in the competition, with a quarter-final at home against West Ham to follow.
“I think it’s a very special competition to play in,” he told MUTV.
“There is a lot of history and many difficult games against sides like this one and I think we did well from the beginning and that was key.
“We didn’t let them come on to us and create chances from the start and that was good. There were a few tactical things we worked on, we knew they would play five at the back, but the most important thing in these types of games is the attitude and if you are ready for the battle, you mostly win and we did that.
“We scored two goals in the first half and we managed the second half well. So it was a good job.”
Mata chipped in with a goal of his own just before half-time when he lifted a lovely free-kick over the Shrewsbury wall.
There were claims it should have been ruled out for offside, with a number of United players beyond the last defender as Mata struck the ball.
But the Spaniard said it was a tactic that worked well for United’s Europa League opponents Midtjylland, who claimed a 2-1 win in the first leg on Thursday.
“We did it in Denmark, we tried it because it was something Midtjylland did,” Mata said.
“It was the referee’s decision and they said it was not offside because they said as soon as I kicked the ball they come to be level with the defenders. In this match it was good because I think the goalkeeper reacted late to the ball and he couldn’t save it.”
As happy as he was with the goal, Mata was more satisfied with his overall performance.
“I felt good. I tried to find the spaces with the ball and I think we played quicker, we played more forward, and we had more chances to score, but the most important thing is a clean sheet and we now need to build up for the next game,” he said.