Chris Smalling was relieved to see Jesse Lingard’s extra-time FA Cup final winner burst the back of the net after the Manchester United defender was sent off during the 2-1 win.
Smalling was booked twice, the second for a rugby tackle on Yannick Bolasie, in Saturday’s final and left United with 10 men for the second half of extra time, but they still prevailed s as Lingard rifled home the winner with a superb volley.
The goal spared the England international’s blushes after his brain snap left United short in defence.
“The feeling is one of relief,” said Smalling. “You just have to learn that you can’t always go and win that ball and there are certain moments to do it.
“Luckily I wasn’t punished, because Jesse popped up with a great goal, but I thought it was a well-deserved win because we created a lot of chances.”
Smalling – who has acted as stand-in captain for United throughout the season – was delighted to see the cup won off the back of a youngster’s effort, with the likes of Lingard, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford having played such key roles in the squad this term.
“We’ve looked to a lot of the young players to turn up this season and quite often they have in those big games,” said Smalling.
“I’m buzzing for Jesse because it was a great strike worthy of winning any game.
“I think it helps when there’s a number of young players and you’re not the only one, then you might be a little overawed.
“So it’s a positive feeling going forward. We’re not an old team, so that gives us a chance.
“There’s so many young ones getting a chance and picking up their first trophy, it’s going to give them great belief going into next season.
“When you go into next season you have the experience of winning something fresh in your memory and that’s what we need to really build on and make sure next season we finish winning something.
“It’s about silverware and this club is used to winning it year on year, so it was quite a drought for a club of our size. Hopefully this stands us in good stead for next year.”