Solskjaer 'never surprised' by Mata quality as midfielder reaches 50 goals for Man Utd

By Sports Desk September 30, 2020

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is "never surprised" to see Juan Mata take control of matches after the midfielder scored one and set up another in Manchester United's 3-0 EFL Cup victory over Brighton and Hove Albion.

Mata picked out Scott McTominay from a free-kick for United's opener in Wednesday's last-16 tie before profiting from a brilliant Donny van de Beek assist to bring up his 50th goal for the club.

The 32-year-old also scored in the third-round win over Luton Town and has now been directly involved in 13 goals in his last 15 starts for United.

He has not been part of Solskjaer's squad for the opening two rounds of Premier League fixtures, but the United head coach is happy with the Spaniard's latest contribution in the cup competitions.

"It was a great performance by Juan Mata," Solskjaer told Sky Sports. "He was the one who got on the ball and calmed us down. He was composed. 

"He more or less creates the first goal himself. I am never surprised when he plays like this.

"He has been around the block and knows football. He does his work and is at the back stick to shield the ball from Dan Burn at a corner in the second half."

Victory for United was their third in a row in all competitions, four days on from snatching a last-gasp 3-2 win over Brighton at the same venue in the Premier League.

Paul Pogba rounded off the scoring for United 11 minutes after being brought off the bench in a morale-boosting win for Solskjaer's side following some below-par performances to begin the campaign.

"We needed the first 20-25 minutes to get our confidence and get on the ball. We have worked on set-pieces. You keep a clean sheet and this is important for a back four," he said.

"We wanted to bring on Pogba for 25-30 minutes for a workout. The game was there for him. Paul and Marcus [Rashford] found some good positions."

United continue to be linked with Jadon Sancho - left out of Borussia Dortmund's squad for Wednesday's 3-2 DFL-Supercup loss to Bayern Munich because of illness - with five days of the transfer window to go.

And while remaining tight-lipped on speculation that United have had another bid knocked back, Solskjaer is confident his bosses are doing all they can to bring in additional quality.

"I can't give you any news," he said when asked directly about the Sancho situation. "We are working with what we have got. We have a big squad. 

"We changed 10 players from Saturday. If there is any update, we will let you know. I don't comment on other teams' players. I can't concern myself with other clubs. 

"I know the club is working well and hard to have a strong squad as possible. Sometimes speculation is there and we can't control that."

Related items

  • Van de Beek believes deeper role worked well in Man Utd victory Van de Beek believes deeper role worked well in Man Utd victory

    Donny van de Beek believes his deployment in a deeper role worked well as Manchester United thrashed Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League.

    United won 4-1 at Old Trafford on Tuesday, with Bruno Fernandes' early double added to by strikes from Marcus Rashford and substitute Daniel James.

    With the superb Fernandes causing havoc in the number 10 role, Van de Beek played as a holding midfielder alongside Fred.

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's use of the Netherlands international has been a subject of intense debate given he is yet to start a Premier League game but the 23-year-old has played in all four continental matches, starting three.

    Van de Beek had two key passes, completed 33 passes in the opposition half – second only to Fred – and boasted an 87.5 per cent passing accuracy against Basaksehir.

    While he enjoys playing in a more advanced position, Van de Beek also feels comfortable in a deeper role and believes the system was a good one.

    "It worked really well," Van de Beek, a £40million signing from Ajax, said to MUTV.

    "Some games I play number 10 and sometimes the coach needs me in the control position.

    "That is fine for me because before, when I played at Ajax, I was playing in those positions, so it is okay.

    "It was a good reaction from the away game. To win 4-1 at home I think you can be happy. The first half was really good especially the first 30 minutes and we played nice football and scored nice goals.

    "In the second half we lost too many balls and gave them some chances but the last five minutes we controlled the game again."

    A third straight win in all competitions for United avenged their defeat in Turkey earlier this month and put them three points clear at the top of Group H.

    They have now won their last seven home games in European competition by an aggregate score of 24-2.

    "It is not finished but we are in a good position," added Van de Beek, with United sitting ahead of Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig.

    "We need to keep working and everything will be fine. We now have eyes on the weekend [against Southampton]."

  • Rumour Has It: Man City prepare 10-year plan for Messi Rumour Has It: Man City prepare 10-year plan for Messi

    Manchester City are preparing long-term plans for Lionel Messi.

    Messi, 33, is coming out of contract at Barcelona at the end of the season and is linked with a move, having sensationally requested a transfer ahead of 2020-21.

    Strongly linked with Messi, City are making long-term plans for the Argentina star.

     

    TOP STORY – MAN CITY PREPARE 10-YEAR PLAN FOR MESSI

    Manchester City are preparing a 10-year plan for Barcelona star Messi, according to The Times.

    The report says the Premier League club are expected to launch another attempt to sign the superstar at the beginning of 2021 and will offer him opportunities with the City Football Group (CFG) after he plays for City.

    Messi has scored six goals in 11 games for Barcelona this season.

    ROUND-UP

    - Amid an injury crisis in defence, Barcelona's priorities have changed. Goal reports the LaLiga giants are focusing on Manchester City defender Eric Garcia and not Lyon star Memphis Depay, following the knee injury suffered by Gerard Pique.

    - Thiago Silva has made quite an impression at Chelsea. The defender signed a one-year deal ahead of this season and Tuttomercatoweb reports there have already been initial contacts to extend his contract until 2022.

    - The news is a little different for Jerome Boateng. Sport Bild reports Bayern Munich have already decided not to extend the defender's contract, which expires at the end of the season.

    - Valencia's 17-year-old midfielder Yunus Musah appears to be catching the eye. 90min reports Arsenal are among the Premier League sides monitoring the teenager. The two-time United States international came through Arsenal's academy before joining Valencia in 2019.

  • MLS: Sounders see off LAFC in play-offs as Nashville stun Toronto MLS: Sounders see off LAFC in play-offs as Nashville stun Toronto

    Defending MLS champions Seattle Sounders booked their spot in the Western Conference semi-finals after accounting for Los Angeles FC 3-1.

    Seattle booked their spot in the second round of the play-offs thanks to goals from Jordan Morris, Nico Lodeiro and Raul Ruidiaz on Tuesday, earning a home date with Dallas.

    Morris, Lodeiro and Ruidiaz all scored in the same MLS match for the fourth time, more than any other trio of team-mates since the start of the 2018 season, per Opta.

    Lodeiro opened the scoring in the 18th minute – Morris teeing up the Uruguayan for a first-time shot past LAFC goalkeeper Pablo Sisniega.

    LAFC's star captain Carlos Vela had a penalty saved three minutes later as Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei stopped a non-shoot-out spot-kick for the first time since April 2016, after allowing goals on the previous 18 on-target penalties he had faced.

    After Morris and Lodeiro hit the woodwork in quick succession, Ruidiaz doubled the lead in the 66th minute before Eduard Atuesta reduced the deficit 11 minutes later.

    Morris, though, restored Seattle's two-goal advantage within three minutes as the Sounders moved through to the next round.

    Meanwhile, expansion franchise Nashville stunned Toronto 1-0 after extra time to earn an Eastern Conference semi-finals berth.

    Daniel Rios' 108th-minute goal settled the contest in Connecticut, where seventh seeds Nashville became the third team in MLS history to win each of their first two play-off matches.

    Rios' winner was also the first Toronto has ever conceded in extra time of a MLS play-off clash.

    Nashville will now face Columbus Crew for a place in the Conference finals.

    In the day's other fixture, New England Revolution shocked Eastern Conference top seeds Philadelphia Union 2-0.

    First-half goals from Adam Buksa and Tajon Buchanan set the tone for the Revolution, who are the first team to score multiple goals in an away match against the Union all season.

    Next up for Bruce Arena's Revolution are Orlando City.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.