When the Red Devils reached the last eight, the Spanish veteran scored and assisted on a rare start.
Juan Mata’s superb performance did not surprise Ole Gunnar Soulsjെയr, as veteran Manchester United’s 3-0 win over Brighton reached the Carabao Cup quarter-finals.
The 32-year-old was crowned Man of the Match at Amex Stadium on Wednesday night, giving Scott McDominy’s opener a consolation finish in the second half before assisting on a half – stroke – his 50th goal for Manchester United.
Substitute Paul Pogba secured the victory with a free kick in the 10th minute as Soulsjour’s team won the third game in a row following their Premier League defeat to Crystal Palace on the first weekend.
The Norwegian manager praised Mata’s all-round game and the Red Devils defense was delighted to win their second clean sheet of the season.
Soldier said Sky Sports: “Juan Mata’s great performance. He’s the one who calmed us down on the ball. He’s written. He’s more or less creating the first goal.
“He’s been around the block, he knows football, he’s doing his job, he’s on the back stick to save the ball from Dan Burn in a corner in the second half.
“We need the first 20-25 minutes to gain our confidence and get the ball. We’ve worked on the set pieces. You keep a clean sheet, this is important for a back four.”
With the transfer window closed in October, Man Utd was able to add Dutch midfielder Donnie van de Beek to the squad, following in the footsteps of Dortmund dynamo Jadon Sancho to open on loan to Barcelona’s Usman Dembele.
When asked about the Red Devils’ transfer plans, Soulshair declined to comment, but said the club still aims to ensure the team is strengthened.
“I can not give you any news,” Soulshair said. “We’ve working with what we’ve got. We have a big squad. We have replaced 10 players since Saturday. If there is any update, we will let you know.
“I do not comment on the players of other teams. I can not worry about myself with other clubs. I also know that the club works well to create a team as strong as possible. Sometimes ulation rights deals happen and we can not control it.”
United will host Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham on Sunday at Old Trafford in the Premier League.
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