Juan Mata dedicates Man United win over Huddersfield to Munich disaster victims

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Juan Mata dedicated Manchester United‘s victory against Huddersfield to the victims of the Munich disaster and their families.

Tuesday is the 60th anniversary of the air disaster that killed 23 people as United made their way back from a European Cup tie at Red Star Belgrade.

Old Trafford fell silent on Saturday as the victims were remembered ahead of a match against Huddersfield that Jose Mourinho’s men would win 2-0.

“Obviously it was a special game, a very sad memory,” United midfielder Mata said.

“It was a thing that changed the history of the club and the club showed the passion and the energy that we all have in Manchester United.

“So, we pay respect to the victims and their families, and they will always be in our memories.

“It was a game to win for them and we did it.”

United had to dig deep, stay patient and keep at a high tempo to eventually break down stubborn Huddersfield.

Spanish silk: Juan Mata was a standout player against Huddersfield.

Spanish silk: Juan Mata was a standout player against Huddersfield.

Mata’s fine cross was met by an equally impressive Romelu Lukaku finish as Mourinho’s Reds broke the deadlock in the 55th minute, with Alexis Sanchez then slotting home his first goal for the club after his initial spot-kick was saved.

“It was the kind of game that we needed to have, trying to score from the beginning,” Mata said.

“We knew they were going to come here and are a very well-organised side. It took some time to score the first goal and to open the game.

“But I think we did what we had to which was press up, play in the other half, recover the ball as soon as possible and play with intensity.

“I think today we did a good job.”

Mata was particularly pleased for new boy Sanchez as he capped a man-of-the-match performance on his home debut with a goal.

“It is important (to get your first goal), you know? When you’re an attacking player and you arrive to a new club you feel like the sooner you score the better,” Mata told MUTV.

“We are so happy for him, he scored a goal and he created a lot of things, so we’re happy to have him with us.”

Victory for second-place United saw them move within 13 points of table-topping Manchester City, whereas an eighth straight winless Premier League match saw Huddersfield slip into the drop-zone.

David Wagner’s men have a key run of fixtures coming up after Tuesday’s FA Cup fourth round replay at Birmingham and captain Tommy Smith remains upbeat.

“I felt we proved we have character,” he said. “Results have not been great lately. There is no hiding from that, but we have character in this group.

“We will keep fighting until the very end of the season and get as many points as we can. Results bring confidence and we haven’t been getting those results.

“But remaining confident has been a key message that we have been trying to get across – myself, the manager and the staff.

“This is a tough league with no easy games. This is the club’s first season at this level for a long time and we are discovering how tough it can be.

“But we will keep fighting, keep showing character and keep putting in as much effort as possible.”

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Raheem Sterling joins list of top six worst misses that features Cristiano Ronaldo and Fernando Torres

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Raheem Sterling missed a tap-in as Premier League leaders Manchester City were held by Burnley on Saturday.

Sterling, who is having the best scoring season of his career to date, was picked out at the far post by Danilo’s cross, but scuffed the contact and sent the ball wide of the far post.

City were leading 1-0 at the time – with the match inside the final 20 minutes – thanks to a first-half Danilo strike. But they would drop points as Johann Berg Gudmundsson struck in the 82nd minute to give Burnley a 1-1 draw.

Here, Press Association Sport look at six of the worst misses:

Ayegbeni Yakubu: World Cup, Nigeria v South Korea, 2010

The former Everton and Portsmouth man was the beneficiary of a pinpoint cross from the left and Yakubu, inside the six-yard box, went for the precision finish rather than a blast into the open goal. Unfortunately for him he sent the ball six inches wide.

Yakubu’s infamous miss for Nigeria.

Chris Iwelumo: World Cup qualifier, Scotland v Norway, 2008

In a crucial World Cup qualifier, and on his Scotland debut, striker Iwelumo managed to miss the target from close range after a perfect cross from Gary Naysmith. It was a sitter and Iwelumo never did score for his country.

Cristiano Ronaldo: Primera Division, Rayo Vallecano v Real Madrid, 2012

Even the world’s best players can blunder, and Real Madrid superstar Ronaldo would not want to relive this one. He was slipped the ball across goal by Gonzalo Higuain as Real Madrid attacked at pace, and only had to tap home. Too easy perhaps. Ronaldo instead chipped towards an empty net and hit the post.

Even the best sometimes are human.

Ronnie Rosenthal: Premier League, Aston Villa v Liverpool, 1992

The Liverpool striker rounded Villa goalkeeper Nigel Spink and, with the goal wide open, leant back and side-footed the ball against the bar – to the delight of a packed Holte End.

Fernando Torres: Premier League, Manchester United v Chelsea, 2011

If there was a single moment which summed up Torres’ miserable Chelsea career, this was it. The Spaniard had done all the hard work by rounding David De Gea, but with an open goal gaping he prodded tamely wide from the edge of the goal area.

Fernando Torres had his fair share of blunders at Chelsea.

Jon Dahl Tomasson: Eredivisie, Feyenoord v NAC Breda, 2001

Newcastle fans will remember Tomasson missing a hatful of chances during a tough stint at St James’ Park. None matched this one though, with Tomasson – in the centre of the goalmouth – scooping over the bar from barely a foot out.

Provided by Press Association Sport

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Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger praises Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan's chemistry

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Arsene Wenger says the instinctive understanding between old friends Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan can transform Arsenal‘s turbulent season.

Aubameyang marked his Arsenal debut with a goal in Saturday’s 5-1 demolition of Everton, while Mkhitaryan provided three assists in his first start for the Gunners.

The swaggering show from the former Borussia Dortmund team-mates was a much-needed boost for Arsenal boss Wenger after a difficult January that saw Alexis Sanchez force through a move to Manchester United, while the north Londoners struggled on the pitch.

Gabon striker Aubameyang joined from Dortmund on deadline day for a club record £56 million, reuniting with Armenia midfielder Mkhitaryan, who arrived earlier in the window from United in a swap deal for Sanchez.

While Aaron Ramsey scored his first career hat-trick against Everton, it was the promising partnership between Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan that stole the show.

“Overall, the two players integrated well into our game and they looked as if they had played for us forever,” said Wenger.

“They have similar qualities to what our game is about. Technically, they are good. They are quick and overall it was a first convincing performance.”

Aubameyang was a constant menace with his pace and energy and, while his goal was fortunate given he was offside when he ran onto Mkhitaryan’s pass, there was enough quality on display to suggest he may keep the misfiring Alexandre Lacazette on the bench for the foreseeable future.

“The quality of his movement and finishing was excellent. He gives problems to defenders with his movement, he is always looking to go into spaces that are difficult to cover,” Wenger said.

“When he gets ahead it is hard to catch him. When we understand him better we can make more of that.
“He is not at his best physically and still has some work to do on that, but the price is reasonable I think, overall for that quality of striker in today’s market.”

Mkhitaryan struggled to make an impact at United, but he looked revitalised at the Emirates Stadium, linking with Aubameyang and Mesut Ozil to devastating effect as Arsenal tore Everton to pieces with four goals in the first half.

“He is a good link player and he works very hard as well,” Wenger said.

“Overall, I think he looked well-accepted by the rest of the team and was understanding very well how we want to play. I can say is that it was a convincing debut.”

ICE-COOL RAMSEY

Hat-trick hero: Ramsey.

Wenger also reserved praise for Ramsey as the Wales midfielder finally took his manager’s advice to stay cool in front of goal.

“I felt always – when I watched the games after on the video – you think always that he is there in a good position in the box and I felt always that he had between 10 and 15 goals at least in his locker,” Wenger said.

“He didn’t do it until now because I think he rushed, sometimes, with his finishing. He looks much calmer.”

Everton boss Sam Allardyce was furious with his side’s display as they tarnished his 500th match as a Premier League manager.

“I’m angry because accepting an instruction is the players’ responsibility at this level of football,” he said.

“We tried to give those instructions. There was a very good performance by Swansea on Tuesday against Arsenal and we based our plan on that.

“We set out to play like that, unfortunately Swansea played at the top of their game and we played at the bottom.

“That is why we were tumbling goals left, right and centre with our pathetic performance. None of it was any good. All the team played crap.” 

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