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Published: 11:38 | 26/9/16

Mata buzzing after special afternoon


Juan Mata believes Manchester United can take advantage of their rediscovered confidence by getting some positive results on board before the international break.

After an impressive start to life under Jose Mourinho, United suffered a sharp dip in form with three successive defeats, which resulted in the manager and players coming under increased scrutiny.

Mourinho responded to the criticism by taking the decision to drop Wayne Rooney from the starting line-up for Saturday's visit of Leicester to Old Trafford and it paid dividends as United dominated the first-half.

Goals from Mata, Marcus Rashford, Paul Pogba and Chris Smalling put United in a commanding position before the interval and the result was never in doubt despite Demarai Gray getting one back for the Premier League champions just before the hour mark.

Mata admits it was a special afternoon and he is confident United can build on their impressive display.

"After a week that had been complicated, two wins –in the EFL Cup and against Leicester– are the best proof of the team’s reaction. As I said, this game is exactly what we needed," Mata wrote in his weekly blog.

"The truth is Saturday was a special day in Old Trafford. Facing the current champions and getting such a win, feeling how the fans celebrate it, and enjoying on the pitch have been enough reasons to make this weekend special. The score might be deceptive, because it wasn’t an easy game (it never is against Leicester).

"The key was to score first. Taking the lead gave us more confidence and helped to create a great atmosphere in the stadium. Those things together made us give our best to get an incredible 4-0 before half time. Each goal came in a different way; we showed that we are a team with a lot of potential, with different ways to score goals, and we have to take advantage of that. The crowd in Old Trafford was really excited, in a way I hadn’t seen for a long time, and that’s what our fans deserve.

"Being able to play and win like that is a special feeling. You can feel the crowd connecting with the team, and it seems that everything just flows. Obviously, after an almost perfect first half, the game had less intensity after the break. It’s normal when a team is trying to control the game to have no surprises, and the other one doesn’t want to concede more goals and tries to score some, as it did happen. But in general we got very positive feelings and a boost of confidence to play the next couple of games before another international break.

"We have two games again this week. On Thursday we play against Zorya Luhansk, from Ukraine. Perhaps they are not very well-known, but they are second in their league with only one defeat so far. We will get to know more things about them in the next few days to prepare for the game. The first week they got a draw against Fenerbahce; they are not in this competition by chance.

"On the weekend we will face Stoke City in Old Trafford. They haven’t had the start they expected but it’s always tough to play against them. They have very talented players that are able to define a match in an individual action. We are looking forward to have two good games at home this week and make the fans enjoy as they did last Saturday. It would allow us to go to the international break with very good feelings."

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