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Mata revels in return to Ukraine

Spain’s return to the scene of their Euro 2012 final victory in Ukraine is a “fantastic” feeling, Juan Mata has said.

Mata scored the final goal in an emphatic 4-0 win over Italy in Kiev three years ago as Spain defended the European title they won in 2008.

With Vicente del Bosque’s side set to conclude their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign at Kiev’s Olympic Stadium on Monday, the Manchester United forward is excited to set foot on the famous pitch once again.

“I have good memories of this stadium. The final in Euro 2012 was beautiful. It’s fantastic to return,” he said.

“The memories have been coming back ever since we reached the hotel. It was an unforgettable day. I was proud to have taken part that day.”

Spain have already sealed their place in the finals in France next year but Mata is determined to sign off qualifying with a strong showing.

“We know we’ve qualified but we want to put in a good performance. I’m sure it’ll be a difficult game,” he said.

“This team has something if we play at a high level. We’re ready to give our best.

“We’ve seen a lot of Ukraine’s games. They’re a very complete team and it’ll be difficult to win tomorrow.”

Defender Mikel San Jose is expecting a tough test against Ukraine’s attack – especially with Mykhaylo Fomenko’s side needing to better Slovakia’s result against Luxembourg if they are to claim the second automatic qualifying spot.

“Ukraine are a great team with few weaknesses,” said the Athletic Bilbao man. “They’re very strong in attack. It’ll be a good game.”

Sun 11 Oct, 2015
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