Juan Mata reveals dressing room atmosphere following Middlesbrough win

by Leo Nieboer

Juan Mata has shed light on the dressing room atmosphere following a week that saw Manchester United qualify for the Europa League quarter-final and claim a 3-1 win over Middlesbrough in the Premier League.

The Spaniard broke the deadlock against FC Rostov last Thursday to seal a quarter-final date with Belgian side Anderlecht next month.

He was once again involved over the weekend, producing a tidy performance as goals from Marouane Fellaini, Jesse Lingard and Antonio Valencia took Mourinho’s men up to fifth spot.

And Mata, writing in his weekly blog, noted that the first team will enter the closing stages of the campaign with a positive mindset.

“Two consecutive wins allow us to close March (due to the international break) in a very positive way, and we are convinced that the end of the season will bring us a lot of joy,” he said.

“The week has been very demanding physically but we gave everything we had and, despite the FA Cup disappointment, we have moved forward in Europe and also we have got closer to the top four in the Premiership.

“The first win was against Rostov and it also implied being in the draw of the Europa League quarter-finals. As I’ve been saying since the season started, we’re all very excited about this competition. Against Anderlecht we will have the opportunity to prove it again and try to make it to the next round.

“The second win was against Middlesbrough on Sunday. It was another good game from the team, with an opponent that never gave up. The truth is we’ve been unbeaten in the Premier League for the last 18 games now, and it’s not by chance.

“A few draws have penalised us, certainly, but the team always had options to win those games. On Sunday, the victory came with an extra prize: the 600th win in the Premier League, which gives you an idea of how big this club is. We must keep that in mind in order to understand what it means to be wearing this shirt.

“Besides, I was able to meet Negredo, Barragan and also Victor, a good friend of mine and former team-mate. I wish all of them the best in their fight to remain in the Premier League.”

This last week could have gone very differently: that ignominious defeat at Chelsea felt like a potential catalyst for an Arsenal-esque end-of-season meltdown, but Mourinho’s men – jaded, injured and still chasing the top five – continued to fight, and now find themselves within touching distance of fourth spot and indeed a place in the Europa League final.

The 54-year-old will be quick to remind the watching world that, unlike any other rival, United will have to play eight games over April, but his side – now 18 games unbeaten in the Premier League – will return from the international break riding on a crest of momentum. Make no mistake: it promises to be an explosive end to a mercurial campaign.

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