Juan Mata and Donny van de Beek linked up delightfully for Manchester United’s second goal against Brighton.

A backheel from new signing Van de Beek gave Mata a clear cut chance and he buried it to double United’s lead, having assisted the first.

This was just the second time the two players have featured in the same starting line up, but already they appear to be on the same wavelength.

After the game, Mata spoke highly of Van de Beek, in his post match interview with Sky Sports.

Brighton And Hove Albion v Manchester United - Carabao Cup Fourth Round
(Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

RONALDO NEEDS TO STOP WHINING.

Mata said: “He’s a very clever player. I love playing with him because he finds pockets, spaces.

“He understands football in a way that I like, which is playing one-twos, passing and moving, and the goal was like that.”

Mata linked up well with Bruno Fernandes in cup games when the Portuguese ace first signed for the club back in his first few matches in February and March.

Now he is flourishing alongside Van de Beek, and Mata deserves some credit for this himself.

Mata is a clever player and needs footballers around him who can see space and think ahead.

Van de Beek’s assist for Mata’s goal looked like they had been playing together for years, but it was instinctive football from two attacking players who just know where each other will be.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told the club website: “Good footballers understand each other. They are on the same wavelength. It was a good finish from Juan. It looked like he wanted to have a touch too many, but it was a very good goal.”

Brighton And Hove Albion v Manchester United - Carabao Cup Fourth Round
(Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

A case to keep starting

United are now into the quarter-finals and Solskjaer will consider putting his best side out for that game.

Currently that does not include either Mata or Van de Beek, but both players have made a strong case to be more involved.

While there could be plenty of changes, both Mata and Van de Beek will feel as though they did enough to retain their places for the next knockout tie.

Both of them may even have a part to play this weekend from the bench against Tottenham in the Premier League.

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