MANCHESTER, England, Nov 27 (Reuters) - Manchester United’s David de Gea was hailed as the best keeper in the world by his manager Jose Mourinho after the Spaniard’s amazing second-half save was instrumental in his side qualifying for the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday.
Following a last-gasp 1-0 win over Young Boys at Old Trafford, Mourinho was also adamant that it was crucial to United’s ambitions to keep the 28-year-old, who has been linked with French champions Paris St Germain.
“He is the best goalkeeper in the world. If our ambitions are to have the best in the world, we have to keep him,” Mourinho told reporters after one extraordinary save in the Group H game again demonstrated the Spaniard’s value to United.
The home side had been labouring and, with the Swiss champions growing in confidence, a 70th minute Ulisses Garcia shot took a deflection and looked to have put the visitors ahead until De Gea flung himself backwards to claw the ball to safety.
Goal-line technology demonstrated that the ball was on the line when he somehow managed to perform his acrobatic heroics.
“It looks a phenomenal save, a save that the best goalkeeper in the world does and gives his team the possibility to win the match,” said Mourinho.
United went on to grab a 91st minute winner thanks to a Marouane Fellaini strike, with the Belgian appearing to touch the ball with his arm as he swivelled to strike it.
Spain international De Gea has been at the centre of a drawn-out contract saga at United, who have failed to nail him down with a new deal this year. The most recent British media reports say he will move to PSG in the close season.
Mourinho, who went on to pick up and hurl a drinks container to the ground after the winning goal, admitted his “relief” that it meant United would now not have to suffer a nervous night in Valencia in the final round of group matches
“We didn’t play to be in trouble until the last minute. I was frustrated we couldn’t score. My players were very tired at the end. That’s what I want. Without David de Gea’s save, no winning goal. We qualified. We did it.”
His United side, though, had gone through a now-familiar lengthy struggle to earn the win, raising more questons about their chances of going much further in the knockout stages.
Mourinho acknowledged this as he added: “Realistically, to be in the last 16 is an achievement — not a big one or a fantastic one, but an achievement.
“There are better teams than us. Teams with more quality and realistic ambitions. When a team arrives in the quarter-finals, anything can happen.” (Reporting by Ian Chadband; Editing by Ken Ferris)