When Daniel Caligiuri stuck out a hand to block Juan Mata’s cross and referee Viktor Kassai pointed to the spot, the Old Trafford faithful were surprised to see the Spaniard place the ball and line up to strike it goal-ward.
Captain Wayne Rooney is normally on penalty duty, and could feel a little aggrieved to no longer be first choice taker as he chases Sir Bobby Charlton’s goalscoring record at the club.
Ander Herrera took a penalty earlier in the season, and revealed that van Gaal made him secondary taker for when Rooney isn’t on the pitch, after seeing his ability in training.
Following the Champions League tie against German outfit Wolfsburg, Mata revealed that he is now United’s number one penalty taker, with Wayne Rooney slumping to the bottom of the list.
“The manager makes a list of penalty takers and I’m the first right now so I have confidence.
“It was a very tough game – we were defending in the last minutes because we were physically very tired.
“They were pushing and pushing but I think we did what we had to do which was win after the first game that we lost in Holland, and we are happy today.”
Mata slotted home to equalise in the 34th minute of the game, after handball culprit Caligiuri had put the Bundesliga side ahead in the 4th minute.
The Spanish playmaker also bagged an assist for Chris Smalling’s winner, with an exuberant backheel flick over the defence, which the centre-back slid to get on the end of.
The game ended 2-1, with Mata picking up Man of the Match, as United took their first points of this year’s Champions League campaign.