Antonio Valencia explains how derby victory has boosted Manchester United’s confidence

by Leo Nieboer

Antonio Valencia has noted that ruining Manchester City’s title party at the Ethiad has galvanised the Manchester United squad ahead of the final month of the season.

Pep Guardiola’s side looked set to wrap up the title against their neighbours after racing into a 2-0 lead by half time.

But a resurgent Man United, inspired by the effervescent Paul Pogba, fought back to claim an historic 3-2 win and delay their Man City’s title celebrations.

And Valencia, speaking to the club’s programme, noted that such a momentous win had given the players a massive boost going into training this week.

“After the game on Saturday, of course it was a fantastic feeling and, two days later when you come back into training, it still felt brilliant and that great vibe stays with you,” he said.

“You carry it with you into the next training sessions which is what we’ve done.

“I think we’ve done really well in key games. Those good results and performances only serve to motivate us even more for the rest of this season and especially for next season as well.

“It’s like a message that we’re sending to ourselves and it has extra motivation for us. It reinforces the fact we have a great squad, a great team and a strong dressing room, ahead of the next season, which will hopefully be a great one for us.”

It was a cathartic afternoon for United, on a stage viewed by the sporting world with keen interest.

Having meekly handed away the initiative in trips to Liverpool and Chelsea, and in home games against City and Sevilla, Jose Mourinho’s men, this time around, refused to go gently into the night.

This wasn’t just a vital psychological triumph for the players, ruthlessly snatching the initiative against a team – unbeaten at home since December 2016 – they have been looking up at all season. It was, just as importantly, a firm affirmation of what this team can do as an attacking unit. They will know, ahead of a big FA semi-final with Tottenham Hotspur, what they are capable of in a way they didn’t before.

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