Football: Mata praises ruthless Mourinho as finals streak continues

Manchester United's Juan Mata celebrates winning the Europa League.
Manchester United's Juan Mata celebrates winning the Europa League.PHOTO: REUTERS

(REUTERS) - Juan Mata praised Jose Mourinho's remarkable knack for coming out on top on the biggest occasions after Manchester United beat Ajax Amsterdam 2-0 on Wednesday (May 24) to signal the Portuguese coach's 12th triumph in a final from 14 attempts.

The 54-year-old has only lost two finals, surrendering the 2004 Portuguese Cup to Benfica when in charge of Porto and the 2013 King's Cup to Atletico Madrid while with Real Madrid.

The win in the Europa Leage final also took Mourinho's trophy count with United to three, adding to the Community Shield and League Cup wins, and salvaged a poor domestic season by giving United a passport back into the Champions League.

Midfielder Mata, who had a frosty relationship with Mourinho at Chelsea and left within six months of the Portuguese coach returning to the Blues, praised his meticulous planning for the game.

"Mourinho hates losing, during the week he tried to motivate the team as well as he could, focusing on not committing any errors, we didn't make any mistakes and we played well," Mata told reporters.

"It was all or nothing and as we won it's fair to say it's been a good season, three trophies, we're in the Champions League next season so we're very happy. We defended well, we scored in important moments, we showed how to play a final.

"We left the best until last, it was all or nothing, if we'd lost and not got into the Champions League the fans and directors wouldn't have been happy.

"But if you'd told us at the start of the season we'd win three trophies and be in the Champions League we'd have taken it."