Man of the Match Mata is targeting the trophy
Juan Mata's Carabao Cup love affair continued on Wednesday night when he scored his 50th goal for Manchester United, claimed an assist and collected the Man of the Match award as the Reds reached the quarter-finals.
Our hosts at the Amex Stadium were looking comfortable, and capable of avenging their home Premier League defeat to the Reds at the weekend, when Mata seemed to take the proceedings by the scruff of the neck by making a surging run into their territory and drawing a foul from his pursuer, the towering Seagulls centre-back Dan Burn.
“I tried to put my body in front of him and I think it was a foul,”said Juan, in a post-match interview with Sky Sports.
“Then after [with the free-kick], I just tried to put the ball into the area where normally we try to bring two or three players who can head it.
“It was tight, I think it was just onside, so it was a great header by Scotty. It was important to score in the first half because we know how difficult if we don't score the chances that we create.”
“It was a very clever assist,”praised Juan.
“Donny is a very clever player. I love playing with him because he finds pockets and spaces, he understands football in a way that I like which is playing one-twos, passing and moving, and the goal was like that.
“He's always in the right position, he flicked the ball to me and I could finish with my right.”
Individual accolades are not the Spaniard's priority, however. When asked what the Carabao Cup means to his club, Juan replied:
“It means a trophy. That is what's in our minds, to try to lift trophies for our fans.
“We did it in 2017 so we want to do it again. We try to win every game in every competition. Of course, this one is different this year because we're playing at an early stage but hopefully we can go through the quarter-finals and semi-finals, and play at Wembley which is always nice.”
“I feel good, as always, physically and mentally,”declared the 32-year-old.
“I'm hungry, I have still passion for the game and I feel I have still a lot of football in my legs and in my mind. I am enjoying football as much as ever.”
Mata's performance and attitude earned praise from Sky pundit and his former team-mate Darren Fletcher, who said:
“It was refreshing to hear Juan say he was mentally ready. Tiredness can be a mental thing as well, but Juan has set himself up mentally and he's physically looking in great shape.
“He's been Man of the Match in two League Cup games now so I wouldn't be surprised to see Juan playing in the Premier League quite soon.”
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