Juan Mata has dedicated Manchester United’s “very special” victory over Southampton on Sunday to team-mate Luke Shaw.
Former Saints defender Shaw missed out on a return to St Mary’s having only returned to England on Saturday following two operations in Holland on the double leg fracture he suffered during United’s Champions League defeat to PSV Eindhoven.
In the left-back’s absence, United came from behind to see off Ronald Koeman’s side 3-2, with Mata’s goal adding to a brace from new signing Anthony Martial.
Mata was delighted to notch his second Premier League goal of the season as United climbed to second in the table, but the Spaniard was keen to pay tribute to his injured team-mate.
“Everybody knows that last Tuesday was a bad day for us. Because of the defeat but, especially, because of Luke Shaw’s terribly serious injury,” Mata said in his weekly blog.
“He was very unlucky and suffered a double fracture of his right leg; all of us felt his pain. That’s why we wanted to dedicate a victory to him as soon as possible, to make him feel happy, at least momentarily, and it came this very Sunday.
“I’m sure he will be back stronger, and he will work hard to be with us soon. He was having a great start this season, helping us a lot. All our support to you, my friend, you know we are here with you!”
With Manchester City and Arsenal both suffering defeats on Saturday, Mata says United knew it was crucial to leave Southampton with three points.
“We knew how important was to win at St Mary’s after some of our main rivals had dropped points on Saturday, and we were able to make it, but the game had different stages.
“In the first 30 minutes they were the better team, scoring a goal and creating several chances, but we could tie the score before half-time. After the break, we had a better control of the game, Anthony scored again and we carried on until I was able to complete a fantastic collective play with 45 consecutive passes.
“However, as I said afterwards, in the Premier League you have to fight until the end in almost every game. Graziano Pelle scored again for Southampton and they kept trying, but David [De Gea] was there to make amazing saves, like many other times in the last few years, and so we won.
“In short, it was an important and very special win.”