David de Gea and Ashley Young produced some last-gasp heroics as Manchester United held on to continue their recent revival with a 2-1 win over Stoke last night, but manager Louis van Gaal was not happy with the performance.
De Gea made two brilliant point-blank saves and Young cleared off the line, all in stoppage time, as United edged out the Potters to claim their fourth successive English Premier League victory.
Juan Mata was credited with their 59th-minute winner – although Marcos Rojo claimed to have got the final touch to his free-kick – after Steven Nzonzi had cancelled out Marouane Fellaini’s first-half opener.
The triumph, achieved without injured captain Wayne Rooney and record signing Angel di Maria, maintained United’s presence in the top four and set up an intriguing clash with third-placed Southampton next week.
United might have won more convincingly had Fellaini not spurned two further good chances, while 19-year-old James Wilson, given his chance in Rooney’s absence, also went close after a good run.
They almost paid for those misses as former United forward Mame Biram Diouf twice went close at the death only to be denied by a brilliant reflex save from De Gea and Young. De Gea also saved from Marko Arnautovic at close range.
In the end Van Gaal felt his side deserved the victory, although he was not pleased with a lot of their play.
He said: “I am not happy with the performance. We were not as aggressive as in the last match and we want to play in the same style.
“In the second half we played much better, kept the positions, were more aggressive - but then you have to finish it. Wilson could have finished it, Fellaini could have finished it and (it took) a great save from De Gea and a little bit of luck from Ashley Young.
“But you have to see the whole match and say there is one team that deserved it and that is Manchester United.”
Stoke boss Mark Hughes bemoaned his side’s luck. He felt they were unfortunate not to claim a late equaliser, while he also had doubts over the legitimacy of United’s winner.
He said: “We are disappointed with the award of the second goal. We clearly think it is offside.
“It doesn’t matter if he (Rojo) touches it - he is clearly offside and interfering with play. The referee and assistant should have cancelled that out.
“We didn’t allow that to affect us but the episodes at the end - it was unbelievable, demonstrating the sort of luck we are having at the moment.”
Rooney did not feature after injuring his knee sliding into an advertising hoarding late in Saturday’s victory over Hull.
Van Gaal had hoped he would be fit to play, but has now revealed the England captain will need further assessment on Wednesday.
He said: “My opinion it is not so heavy, but I am not a doctor. We have to wait for a scan and then we will know more.”
United captain Rooney is to undergo a scan after missing last night’s win with a knee injury.
Rooney was ruled out of the 2-1 victory at Old Trafford because he was still feeling the effects of a heavy collision with an advertising hoarding at the weekend.
The England skipper was hurt in the latter stages of Saturday’s 3-0 win over Hull and was limping as the players left the field at the final whistle.
Van Gaal had expressed hope the 29-year-old would be fit to face the Potters but has now revealed the problem will be given further examination.
Van Gaal said: “It is his knee but we have to wait for tomorrow to say anything about it because you never know with a knee. My opinion it is not so heavy but I am not a doctor.
“We have to wait for a scan and then we will know more.”
Di Maria has all but been ruled out of the trip to Southampton nex Monday night with the hamstring injury that forced him off against Hull, although Van Gaal remains optimistic.
He said: “Di Maria is not so heavy but of course he shall not play against Southampton, I think - but you never know.”
Van Gaal also gave an update on another recent injury victim, midfielder Daley Blind, and expressed hope he could be back in action after a knee problem before the end of the month. He said: “It is not so heavy, but the injury is not next week. Christmas maybe. I think that at the end of December maybe we see light in the tunnel.”