Juan Mata defined excellence during his outing against Brighton and Hove Albion.
Time and time again the Spaniard’s presence in Manchester United’s roster has been questioned. He clearly no longer challenges for the crucial starting spots that David Moyes purchased him for from Chelsea back in 2014.
Yet, it is performances like the one he delivered during the club’s Carabao Cup win over Brighton on Wednesday that explain precisely what he can continue to provide for the Red Devils.
The gamed ended 3-0 in favour of the traveling side with Mata on the scoresheet alongside Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba.
The 32-year-old first made an impact late in the first-half. United had won a free-kick in an important spot and the manner in which Mata slotted it into the Brighton box ensured that both Scott McTominay and Eric Bailly had a chance to bury it into the net even though it was the former’s header that did the trick.
Incidentally for that set-piece, poor positioning from Brighton was certainly to blame too.
Mata’s next talking point came in the second-half when he made the most out of a Donny van de Beek backheel pass to calmly slot it into the back of the net himself. This was his 50th goal for Manchester United across all competitions.
Fans kept an eye out on his performance and lauded him for it on Twitter.
Juan Mata steps up everytime when he’s asked to, fantastic player and example to the squad
— ManUtdMindset (@ManUtdMindset) September 30, 2020
Juan Mata vs Brighton:
42 passes completed (91.3% accuracy)
5 long passes completed
4 chances created
— 2 big chances
3 ground duels won
Absolute class! pic.twitter.com/Gbs061fCXw
— UtdArena (@utdarena) September 30, 2020
We’re all watching a game of football where a 32 year-old Juan Mata looks like the fastest player on the pitch.
Embrace it. Remember it.
— Michael (@TFWriter) September 30, 2020
Juan Mata will never lose that technique.
— ً (@utdrobbo) September 30, 2020
In fact, his numbers from the game alone painted a positive picture. Further, supporters were also enthralled by the sheer speed he displayed in taking on Dan Burn to win the foul that led to his well-executed free-kick.
In fact, if such performances can be replicated consistently, Ole Gunnar Solskjær may have just discovered his go-to rotation option up-front.