Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has claimed that he was just about to take off Juan Mata before the attacking midfielder won the game against Watford with a brilliant free kick, Express reports.
The Red Devils continued their recent good form with another victory on Wednesday, but it took them 83 minutes to score the winning goal.
Van Gaal’s men weren’t at their best for much of the match and could have gone one goal down on several occasions, but Hornets striker Odion Ighalo spurned their chances to punish United.
With the game heading towards a draw, Mata curled in a delightful free kick that gave Old Trafford a huge lift, with the three points now seeing them tied with Manchester City, who are ahead in fourth only by goal difference.
But Van Gaal has admitted that he almost took out Mata before the winner, with the Spain international limping and Jesse Lingard already warming up.
“It was true because he was limping at that time but we were in a better moment so I don’t want to change any more,” Van Gaal said.
“I let Lingard do the running again because I had changed the shape, and put Martial in the striker’s position and at that time we were in a better shape.
“So then I didn’t want to make the change again and then he scored the goal so I am very happy that I let him stay.
“I had wanted to change but then I didn’t want to change any more. That was my luck because Mata scored.”