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Home » Sport » Manchester United

Van Gaal targets second place after Anfield win

Louis van Gaal has set his sights on a second-placed finish for Manchester United after the Reds took a stronger foothold in the top four and moved five points ahead of Liverpool with victory at Anfield.

The 2-1 win was an action-packed affair and, aside from Juan Mata's two goals Daniel Sturridge's strike, there was Steven Gerrard's red card and Wayne Rooney's late penalty miss to create plenty of talking points. But the crucial fact is United edged further ahead of rival clubs just outside the top four while increasing pressure on third-placed Arsenal and Manchester City in second.

"I'm very happy that we've won and that we've opened up a gap from the teams below us," van Gaal told MUTV. "We can still look up and finish second. It is a significant win because we're five points ahead of Liverpool now but, if we'd lost, we would have been a point behind them. The win is very important."

Mata won United's Man of the Match award, and van Gaal says the Spaniard has been United's best player in two key wins over top-four rivals Liverpool and Tottenham. "Mata was also very good last week," he said. "And I wasn't going to change my best player. When you play well, you shall always play. Mata has confirmed again today what he can do.”

It was also van Gaal's first experience of the United-Liverpool rivalry at Anfield, and the Dutchman admitted he enjoyed the occasion.

"I liked the atmosphere, our fans and, of course, the start of the game. But the win is important not only for the fans, but for me too!" he joked. "I'm very pleased for the fans, we've beaten Liverpool twicenow, so I'm very happy. I'm most excited about beating Liverpool today, it's a very important moment."

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