Wayne Rooney has conceded that he should have let Juan Mata take the penalty he missed at the end of Manchester United's 2-1 win over Liverpool yesterday.
Mata's brace carried the Red Devils to a vital three points at Anfield, and he could have bagged a hat-trick when Emre Can hauled down Daley Blind in the penalty area in extra-time.
However Rooney stepped up as Manchester United's penalty taker, but the striker saw his effort well saved by Simon Mingolet in the Liverpool goal. Fortunately for the England international the miss didn't affect the outcome of the game, but Rooney concedes he should have let the in-form Mata have the chance to take the match ball home. He also had a special message for one Manchester United fan in particular, who had snuck into the Kop to cheer on his team.
He tweeted after the game; "Very happy tonight. Fans were amazing. @juanmata8 great goals. Should of let him take penalty. And the United fan in the kop. Brilliant."
The win means that Manchester United are now five points clear of Liverpool in fourth place as the race for Champions League qualification heats up.
Mata opened the scoring with a fine goal after Ander Herrera's through ball split the Liverpool defence in half. Manchester United's task got noticeably easier when Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard was sent off just 45 seconds after coming on as a half-time substitute for a stamp on Herrera.
The Spaniard then doubled his side's lead with a sensational finish that seemed to put the game to bed - only for Daniel Sturridge to haul Liverpool back into the game late on. There was still time for Rooney's late penalty drama but overall Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal says he was delighted with the win.
'We beat Liverpool again,' said Van Gaal. 'They were in fantastic shape and we beat them with the old weapons – with the pressure on the ball in the first half.
Now we are five points ahead of Liverpool, and six ahead of Tottenham and Southampton. To win in this moment is very important – one of the most important moments in my career. But there are still eight matches to go. That's 24 points. Liverpool can still be champions. When you are a top manager, or player or club – and Liverpool are – you have to deal with defeats.
'We have also dealt with defeats. We lost at home to Arsenal and then we had to play against Tottenham and Liverpool, and you have to manage that. Liverpool can do that also because they have a great manager, great club, great fans.'
Rooney had the luxury of making his confession knowing it didn't affect the outcome of the game, but is it time for him to hand over to someone else?
His current record stands at: Scored 24 - two on the rebound - five saved and four missed. Is this good enough for a team like Manchester United? Probably not.
Should Wayne Rooney have to say sorry to Juan Mata?
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