Juan Mata hopes the "three golden points" secured at Liverpool on Sunday (17 January) will give Manchester United a "boost of confidence" to improve their game in the last part of the campaign. He did though admit "it wasn't the greatest game in the world".
The former Chelsea playmaker came off the bench for the second consecutive game to play a crucial part in the only goal of the game, providing a perfect assist to Marouane Fellaini's header which came off the bar before Wayne Rooney scored the winner in the visitors' only shot on target in the whole match.
The Spanish playmaker admitted it was not United's best game ever, but praised once again his compatriot David De Gea for keeping a clean sheet after another Man of the Match performance.
"This is a happy day. It's the day when we have got a special win: three golden points at Anfield. Everybody knows about the historic rivalry between the two clubs, and this game was not an exception," the Spaniard wrote in his weekly blog at Kicca.
"It wasn't the greatest game in the world, that's for sure, but the atmosphere and the tension in this kind of matches make me feel privileged year after year... Our fans deserve a special mention, they were amazing and made themselves heard at every minute, supporting us through the entire game.
"We are in a good run of results against Liverpool lately; I hope we can stretch it in the future. Our goal came in the second half. Even if it wasn't our best game, we were able to get a clean sheet (David was great) and to score a nice goal from Wayne after a corner kick."
Following a tough Christmas period with van Gaal's position under scrutiny, United have managed to stay unbeaten in their last four games, with draws against Chelsea and Newcastle and two wins over Swansea and Liverpool. Mata hopes the good run will keep in the second part of the campaign after his boss claimed on Sunday that they are still in the title race.
"I hope this win will give us a boost of confidence, and help us play better and keep getting results in order to move up the table. There's a long way to go and there is no team who is showing a great consistency, so everything is still open," Mata added.
"For the moment, we have to stay focused and keep the same mentality in our next game in Old Trafford against Southampton, the team of my friend Oriol Romeu. They have got two convincing wins in the last two games so we must be careful."
Having started in all the first 20 Premier League games of the campaign, the Spanish international playmaker was dropped at Anfield for the second time in a week after he started on the bench during the thrilling midweek draw at Newcastle. Mata refused to analyse his personal situation but admitted his side should have got the three points against the Magpies and "must learn" from those mistakes ahead of the last part of the season.
"I don't want to forget about last Tuesday. To be honest, my feeling is that we dropped two points," he said. "After being 0-2 and then 2-3 in the score we should have closed the game, but it wasn't the case and we were all very upset on the way back to Manchester, that's inevitable... We must learn from this kind of games."