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Huddersfield victory will boost Manchester United’s confidence ahead of Sevilla clash – Matic

Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic has insisted that the clubs 2-0 victory over Huddersfield Town in the Emirates FA Cup on Saturday evening was vital to restore the squad’s confidence ahead of their return to UEFA Champions League action later this week. United will travel to Seville in Spain to face La Liga side Sevilla in the round of 16 first leg match with Jose Mourinho side looking to put themselves in the driving seat ahead of the second leg match played at Old Trafford next month. the

Romelu Lukaku scored both goals in the victory over the Premier League newcomers, securing United’s path in the domestic competition where they will face Brighton and Hove Albion, another new Premier League side, at the Theatre of Dreams next month. It was a controversial victory for United after Juan Mata scored United’s second goal in the first half but VAR, which is being trialled in the competition when a match is played at a Premier League stadium, deemed Mata’s strike as offside – his knee was offside. Despite this, Matic spoke about the importance of the victory, saying:

“It was important to get the win today for our confidence.

“We have the Champions League now against a very good side. It was important for us and we have to recover well because this game was very hard for us and we have to give our best, and play good football, if we are going to win [in midweek].”

Belgian striker Lukaku scored his 20th and 21st goals in the victory over Huddersfield and Matic admitted that the two goals will also boost the confidence of his teammate ahead of a key run of matches this coming week which will see United head to Spain to face Sevilla, then entertain Premier League champions Chelsea at the Theatre of Dreams on Sunday afternoon. Speaking about Lukaku and his goals on Saturday, Matic continued by saying:

“He is our first striker and he is very important to us. It’s very important for his confidence that he is scoring goals. He is a great striker, very strong and he is still young and I am sure he will be important for us until the end of the season.

“I am happy we have him in the team and, today, he scored two goals which is what the striker is there to do and he did exactly that.”

Juan Mata scored what would have been United’s second goal of the game just before half-time but the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) intervened. After a long delay, which is something that will take the joy out of the very passionate game, the new technology ruled the Spaniard’s strike as offside. Matic has stated that he is in favour of VAR but the process needed to be quicker as he stated injuries can occur when the body cools down and the delays were too long. Matic stated:

“We saw the goal and we are not sure it was offside but the referee made a decision and they saw it on TV and we are happy that we scored again and that’s it.

“We just waited for the referee’s decision. We knew that he waited for the people to see it on TV, to analyse it, but it was a little bit strange because you have to wait two minutes to see what happened, but it’s okay. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not.

“I like it [VAR]. I think it will be better for football, they just have to do it a little bit quicker because we waited so long for the decision. Two minutes is a long time on the pitch but I think, overall, it will be good for football. It’s normal that referees make mistakes every game and they can refer it to TV, but it needs to be quicker. They have to do it in 30 seconds because, after two minutes, we are cold and this is the only problem. Other than that, I like it.”

It was an impressive display for United, who earlier in the season were beaten 2-1 by Huddersfield at the John Smith’s Stadium, keeping their 22nd clean sheet of the season. Matic played a crucial role in the match, and all the other matches ending with United keeping a clean sheet this season. Speaking about United keeping another clean sheet and the difficulties of doing so, Matic concluded by saying:

“I am happy because that is what I am there for. It’s very difficult to get a clean sheet, especially against Premier League teams, as every side has opportunities to score. There are some set-pieces where you have to be 100% concentrated, but I am happy we have another clean sheet.”

Matic was one of the most important signings for Jose Mourinho and Manchester United this season, despite what is said on Twitter – the bile-filled platform of anger, which is something you only see when United lose or draw (in poor style). When United win, you seldom see discontent or so-called supporters calling for the club to sack the manager. Some suggest United are no better this season – trailing 16 points behind Manchester City in the Premier League but sitting in second place – when they finished sixth last season.

Mourinho did state that it could take his three years to return United to the side they once were under the guidance of Sir Alex Ferguson. Despite that seeming a long way off still, the positives are still there to be recognised, by those who want to recognise them and don’t judge the club based on results, for which many had not seen the performances of the team, or at least some of them. Some also moan at Lukaku, who has scored 21 goals in all competitions this season, also trailing Harry Kane by four Premier League goals.

Last season, Lukaku scored 25 Premier League goals for Everton, this season he has scored 12 for United, playing in four competitions, three of which United are still active in. Over the past few years, United supporters were crying out for a striker to score more than 20 goals a season. Last season Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored 28 in all competitions before injury ruled him out, this season, in mid to late February, Lukaku has 21 goals. That is still not good enough for some. The positives are there to see, as is the plan of Jose Mourinho. This summer could see United rise again.

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