08/04/2018 10:50, Report by Adam Bostock, Gemma Thompson
Chris Smalling admits he was mightily relieved to score United’s winner in the Manchester derby after being culpable when Vincent Kompany headed in City’s opener.
The Reds centre-back produced a finish that any forward would have been proud of when he volleyed home Alexis Sanchez’s free-kick cross to make the final score 3-2 but he acknowledged that he could have done his day job better during a difficult first half.
“The first half was terrible, apart from the first 15 minutes when there was nothing in it,” Smalling said. “Then we dropped off and didn’t play our game, and [City] could have been out of sight.
“I think there were some honest words said at half-time. We were feeling sorry for ourselves but we needed to make sure we played with pride. We needed to show more character and stand up tall and give the fans something back.
“We didn’t want to be the clowns watching City win that trophy and I think you saw us really stand up in that second half. That second-half performance was for our fans.
“We were 2-0 down at City who have been fantastic at home all season, but we stepped up and won the game. I thought we fully deserved it in the end.”
As for his own part in the tale of two halves, he added: “When you have made a mistake like I did for the first goal, you want an opportunity to make amends and luckily it came. You could see the…