Luke Shaw felt Manchester United wanted it more than Manchester City in a memorable derby triumph that the left-back believes can be the catalyst to a strong end to the season.
All eyes were on Old Trafford on Sunday as the bitter rivals did battle in a top-flight match for the 150th time, and the encounter lived up to the hype.
The clash was full of controversy, skill and talking points, with United emerging victorious after Anthony Martial volleyed home from Bruno Fernandes’ clever free-kick and Scott McTominay capitalised on Ederson’s stoppage-time error in style.
The 2-0 victory was United’s third defeat of City this season and provided a welcome shot in the arm as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men push for a top-four finish.
“I think today was so important – not just the points but the magnitude of the game and how big it is to everyone in this city,” United defender Shaw said.
“I think if you look at it, maybe we wanted it more. I felt like we wanted it more.
“So, very proud of the team and we need to keep focused now tomorrow, because we’re back in training and we’ve got a very big game on Thursday (at LASK in the Europa League).
“We’re still in two cup competitions and the top four is still very much alive.
“We’ve got to keep putting the pressure on. We’ve got to try not to focus too much on other teams.
“We know this is the Premier League, every game is tough, and I think teams will be dropping points, but we need to just focus on us, focus on our results and the confidence is so high.
“We’re shutting sort of shop and keeping clean sheets, which is a very good positive, so we need to keep going.”
Sunday saw United record the eighth clean sheet of this current 10-match unbeaten run in all competitions.
It is their longest stretch without defeat since Solskjaer’s first 11 games at the helm and Shaw believes they are now in a stronger position to build on that form.
“I think back then emotions got over us too much and I think we didn’t maintain that, and I think this time we’re in different sort of position,” he said.
“We’re probably more experienced to it now because it was very disappointing the way we dropped off and that’s not Man United. We need to keep the standards high.
“I’m sure the boss and the coaches around us will keep pushing, but also us as players we need to push each other every day to get to where we want to be.
“I have no doubt that we can finish off the season really strong.”
United approach the three competitions they remain in brimming with confidence built over recent weeks, with the impact of January acquisition Fernandes continuing to inspire the team.
“At times we know he’s going to lose possession, but we need them sort of risk passes that are going to unlock defences,” Shaw added.
“He’s been a brilliant signing so far and he’s already come in with a few assists and a few important goals.
“Long may that continue. We will keep pushing the standards and we’ll keep pushing him because there’s so much more from him to come.”
Fernandes won the free-kick that brought about Martial’s first-half opener – a decision that City aggrieved, with Ilkay Gundogan bemused by the foul awarded against him.
“They were much more aggressive, especially after scoring the first goal,” he said. “They tried to press very high for 10 minutes afterwards.
How the top 6️⃣ look 👀 pic.twitter.com/zkdwTWAQSF— Premier League (@premierleague) March 8, 2020
“But we started the game really well, got into the last third, but the perception of the last pass was just missing.
“We had a lot of corners as well, so the chance was there to create more but unfortunately we didn’t so this is something on which we have to improve.
“Also there was frustration about the free kick before the goal – it was not at all a foul. I just touched the ball and he goes on the floor, shouting.
“I don’t even know if the referee saw it or just had a feeling that it was a foul.
“That was very disappointing for me, to be honest because I was straight involved in the action and conceding the goal straight afterwards hurt very much.
“We tried hard after conceding the first one but it just wasn’t enough.”