Juan Mata’s quality as a squad player was one again in evidence for Manchester United at the weekend.
The Spaniard’s introduction was the spark which got United back into the game, even if many of the plaudits went elsewhere.
Mata came on for the largely ineffective Anthony Martial in the 62nd minute as United’s third and final substitution with the team 1-0 down.
Just six minutes later United were 2-1 up. Mata then sealed the win with a sensational through ball for Marcus Rashford to score United’s third goal in the 78th minute.
Mata’s scything pass showed his combination of vision and execution at it’s best.
This was his third assist of the season. Only Marcus Rashford (4) and Bruno Fernandes (6) have managed more so far.
He has a part to play
Mata’s best performance of the season came in United’s win away over Newcastle.
He has started four league games this season and while he has reverted back to a bench role, he is still capable of moments of magic.
Mata meshes well with Bruno Fernandes; their quality benefits each other.
While Fernandes takes up the attention of opponents who try and often fail to stop him, Mata can get into space undetected and pick out passes for the attackers.
Against West Ham he only managed 20 touches, but it was enough for him to positively influence the game.
Solskjaer’s decision to bring Martial off and Mata on benefited the team positively, with Mason Greenwood able to move into a more central role.
Mata won’t start in Leipzig in midweek, but he could well have a big part to play.
It is not long ago since his starring substitute role against FC Copenhagen in the Europa League which turned the quarter-final.
United have five substitutes available in midweek and Mata showed once again he is capable of influencing matches, especially late on when they get frenetic and tactics begin to break down.
It would not be a surprise to see Solskjaer call on him if United need a goal late on in Germany.
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