Mata: Players shocked by bomb scare – ESPN FC

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Manchester United fans give their thoughts on their side’s last home game of the season being abandoned due to a bomb scare.
BBC Reporter Sarah Corker joins SportsCenter live at Old Trafford to discuss the recent controlled explosion at Old Trafford.
Old Trafford has been evacuated and Manchester United’s match with Bournemouth has been abandoned.

Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata said the players were “absolutely shocked” by incidents at Old Trafford on Sunday when the match against Bournemouth had to be abandoned.

The match was postponed after a suspect package was discovered in toilets shortly before the scheduled kick off, and bomb disposal experts carried out a controlled explosion. 

The device was later revealed to be a fake bomb that was not removed after a recent training exercise involving sniffer dogs conducted by a private firm. The game has been rescheduled for Tuesday at 8 p.m. BST.

Mata has praised the way that the incident was handled, writing in his blog: “What happened in Old Trafford this Sunday left all of us who were there absolutely shocked.

“Everybody in the security team did an effective job, resulting in a quick evacuation of the stadium. It helped not to spread panic around, although all of us had a very odd feeling; something like strain mixed with a lack of understanding.

“The fans left the stadium before we did; I think we left Old Trafford at around five, with the feeling that everything was already under control.

“I feel sorry for all those people who had to go back home without watching the game, because that’s what they had come for. Obviously, safety is always the top priority. But what I’m really sorry about is that this kind of issues affect football, sports and society in general.”

United are all but certain to miss out on a top-four place this season after Manchester City drew 1-1 with Swansea on Sunday to move three points clear, meaning Louis van Gaal’s men would need to beat Bournemouth by 19 goals to overtake their local rivals.

As a result, their primary focus now is on the FA Cup final against Crystal Palace on Saturday, rather than Tuesday’s rearranged fixture.

Mata said: “It’s going to be a bittersweet farewell to Old Trafford, now that we know we won’t be playing the Champions League next season. It leaves us with a bad taste because, even if we enjoyed good moments together throughout the season, we weren’t consistent enough to qualify for the top European competition.

“It’s true that we found many difficulties along the way, especially if we talk about injuries (up to 15 players in several weeks, as far as I remember), but Manchester United must be ambitious and always fight for everything.”

United will be guaranteed a place in next season’s Europa League group stage if they win the FA Cup, but otherwise they will need a point against Bournemouth to avoid the qualification rounds. 

Arindam is ESPN FC’s Manchester United correspondent. Follow him @ARejSport

Mata: Players shocked by bomb scare – ESPN FC