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Man United manager Erik ten Hag has indicated that he believes his team are headed in the right direction after beating Man City in the Manchester Derby on Saturday afternoon.
The Red Devils boss also admitted that he could see why Man City felt aggrieved by his side’s opening goal, which was the subject of a controversial call.
Man United Stage Spirited Comeback
Ten Hag’s outfit came from a goal behind with a late comeback at Old Trafford to see them defeat their local rivals by two goals to one at full-time.
Substitute Jack Grealish opened scoring on the hour mark after he headed in a Kevin de Bruyne cross to send City ahead. However, the Red Devils would come back into proceedings as the game entered its final stages.
Bruno Fernandes opened the home side’s account on 78 minutes through a contentious goal. Marcus Rashford was offside during the play although he did not touch the ball. But City argued that he had clearly interfered in play but VAR and referee Stuart Atwell ruled in the goal to see things level with ten minutes remaining.
Rashford was again the main man on 82 minutes when he slid in to net from a Garnacho cross to send Old Trafford into ruptures and secure a big win for United, who move into third place in the Premier League, just a point behind City in second.
Ten Hag’s Post-Match Comments
Commenting after the victory, ten Hag said that his side’s spirit and self-belief, which enabled the comeback, is “huge.”
Speaking to BT Sport, ten Hag praised his side’s first-half performance.
“The first half we played very well. We defended very well, we were proactive and broke in good opportunities,” Ten Hag stated. “So I was really happy at half-time.”
The Man United boss was less happy with the second-half performance of his team.
“After half-time we had to sub Martial, he had some complaints, and then it changes,” he said, “City came in again, we were not proactive any more, and just before I want to change, then they scored.”
“But the spirit of the team is so huge, the belief is there that the game is 90 minutes and we can fight back,” the former Ajax boss told the reporter.
“I’m really happy with the performance of the team,” he added.
Of the contentious opening goal, the manager said that he believed it was a legitimate goal but understood the protests from his opponents.
“I can see it from the other side as well,”he explained, “The rules, it’s a confusing moment for the backline of the opponent.”
“But when you follow the rules, he didn’t touch the ball and was not interfering and it’s a goal because Bruno came from the back – but I can see it from the other side,” he said.
Praise for Rashford
The Red Devils boss was also keen to praise Marcus Rashford, who recovered from a knock sustained early in the game to play a major part in the team’s win.
“Players have to be resilient,” he said, “You get kicked in a game. It happened and it hurts but you have to keep going.”
“You have to do it to get the right result and performance and fight and deal with that painful moment, even if it keeps painful, and you have to contribute,” he explained, “And the game will go on.”
“That’s what he did today and you see he gets rewarded for it and the team get rewarded for it,” he added.
“In top football you have to suffer and sacrifice to get the right result and to win something.”