Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata 'hurt' by red card at West Brom
Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata has said he felt "hurt" after the first red card of his career in the 1-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday and believed the decision was harsh.
Mata was sent off by referee Mike Dean in the 27th minute, when the score was 0-0, for two bookable offences.
His first yellow card came for encroachment at Darren Fletcher's free kick, with the second following soon afterwards for a foul on the same player.
Mata wrote on his blog: "The truth is this is a new and strange situation for me, not easy to assimilate, but we learn from everything.
"I know that in football we see things like these every week, but obviously what hurts more is that my teammates had to fight with 10 men for a long time.
"I have the feeling that both decisions were rigorous; that, on many occasions, we see more serious fouls that are not penalised in such a way. But at the same time I could have avoided them, and I take responsibility."
He said the sending off "also leaves me with a bad taste for the supporters who travelled to the stadium, and for those who were watching the game from home."
But he stressed that he now had to focus on the next challenge -- Thursday's Europa League game against Liverpool at Anfield.
Defeat at The Hawthorns brought an end to United's run of four successive games in all competitions.
Mata, who scored the winner in the most recent of those, against Watford at Old Trafford, wrote: "Now I have to go through a more bitter experience. That's the way it is. What matters is to move forward and to always learn from each situation. And so I will."
He said he wanted United to "keep believing in ourselves to achieve the goals that are still in our minds from now until the end of the season."
Speaking after the match, United manager Louis van Gaal said referees needed to understand the character of players after Mata was sent off.
Van Gaal told Sky Sports: "A referee has to also know the person who makes the tackle. Juan Mata never hurts an opponent. I asked him how many red cards had he had. He said: 'None, that is the first.' I assumed that already.
"You have to know the character of the players. That is why an experienced referee is better. He knows the players better, knows the game better."
Arindam is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @ARejSport.