Connect with us

Sports

Mata eases pressure on Solskjaer as Manchester United thrash Newcastle 4-1

Published

on

Manchester United beat Newcastle 4-1, thanks to goals from Harry Maguire, Bruno Fernandes, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Marcus Rashford on Saturday, but it was Juan Mata who made the difference for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.

Solskjaer, under pressure after United’s joint-worst defeat of the Premier League era, made five changes from the side thrashed by Spurs and most of the focus ahead of kick-off fell on the players left out. Paul Pogba was the most high-profile to lose his spot. There was no place in the side for Donny van de Beek or Alex Telles either.

But it was one of the players who came into the side who made the biggest impact on the game. Mata had not played a single minute of Manchester United’s first three Premier League fixtures this season. In fact, he had not made a single start in the competition since February.

On this evidence, however, the 32-year-old still has plenty to offer, according to a Sky Sport report.

Mata was not among the scorers at St James’ Park – those were Harry Maguire, Bruno Fernandes, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Marcus Rashford – but United’s best attacking performance in months owed more to him than anyone else. The Spaniard was outstanding from start to finish.

Mata lined up on the right-hand side of United’s attack, the position occupied by Mason Greenwood against Spurs, but his interpretation of the role was very different. What he lacks in pace and power, he makes up for in vision and imagination.

Mata popped up everywhere, drifting into pockets of space wherever he saw them, creating space for Wan-Bissaka to bomb forward on the overlap, and linking up with Fernandes at every opportunity.

By the end, the pair had exchanged passes 31 times. Their combination play resulted in a goal after 19 minutes, only for VAR to rule it out for offside, and there were plenty more examples. Shortly after half-time, there was another mesmerising one-two to manufacture an opening for Fred.

Mata provided Fernandes with the service he has lacked for much of this season and the Portuguese was not the only one to benefit for his presence. Over the course of the 90 minutes, there were also superb passes for Wan-Bissaka and Rashford, one of which released the latter in the build-up to Fernandes’ goal.

Mata knitted everything together, his touch-map underlining his influence all over the pitch, and it was exactly what United needed.

Their biggest issue under Solskjaer has been an inability to break down opponents who sit deep and prevent them from playing on the break. It was for precisely that reason that the trip to St James’ Park looked like an awkward one. But with Mata orchestrating proceedings, it was not a problem.

Instead, Solskjaer’s side were slick in possession and created scoring chances with ease. Indeed, it was only thanks to Newcastle goalkeeper Karl Darlow’s sharp reflexes that the game was not dead and buried long before the late flurry of goals that sealed the victory.

The statistics underlined their effectiveness. United’s total of 28 shots, including 14 on target, was the highest by any Premier League side in a single game so far this season. It was also more than United managed in any game in the whole of the last campaign.

Mata only registered one assist, the corner from which Maguire headed home United’s equaliser, but his influence was far greater than that and Solskjaer acknowledged as much in his post-match press conference, praising him for grasping his opportunity after his spell out of the side.

“He played fantastic,” said Solskjaer. “He’s such a professional and everyone in the team knows his quality. He’s been so patient waiting for his chance.

“I get a lot of questions, ‘Why doesn’t he play? Why doesn’t he play?’ But it’s because we have many good players, and it’s about taking your chances when you do. Juan has definitely done so.”

Mata walked off the pitch with a grin on his face when he made way for Nemanja Matic in the final few minutes of the game and Solskjaer looked similarly elated after the final whistle.

The manager’s credentials had been questioned during United’s poor start to the season and the scrutiny won’t end with this victory – especially with games against Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea, RB Leipzig and Arsenal to come in the weeks ahead.

But the pressure on his shoulders ahead of that testing run of fixtures is at least a little lighter than it was before kick-off at St James’ Park, and that’s largely thanks to his decision to turn to Mata.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Sports

Klopp proved right about Tuchel after Chelsea’s win over Man City in FA Cup

Published

on

Chelsea booked their place in this season’s Emirates FA Cup final with a 1-0 win over Manchester City at Wembley on Saturday evening.

Hakim Ziyech, who joined the Blues from Dutch giants Ajax last summer, netted the only goal of the game just ten minutes into the second half after he connected with Timo Werner’s square pass.

The Moroccan’s fifth goal of the campaign, and his second in his last two FA Cup appearances, was enough to seal the win for Thomas Tuchel’s charges, meaning they brought an end to City’s hopes of completing a famous quadruple this season, with Pep Guardiola’s side currently riding high at the top of the Premier League table, in the final of the Carabao Cup and just two games away from the final of the UEFA Champions League.

t is fair to say that Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was bang on the money when waxing lyrical about Tuchel when he was in charge of Paris Saint-Germain.

Klopp had hailed Tuchel as a “fantastic manager” and spoken highly of the way he had changed the French club’s style of play, something he most certainly had not been afraid to do since arriving in West London.

“A fantastic, fantastic manager. You can see really his influence, it has changed a lot their style of play, how they play, different formations and stuff like that,” Klopp said back in 2019, as quoted by Get French Football News.

He also said, “I know a lot of people who have worked with him, they all are full of respect for him. You cannot be in the Champions League only because of spending money; that is not how it is.

“You need to have on the pitch a good organisation, because all the others we are not blind.

“We do our job as well and you need to have the right tools in the right moments and Thomas has that.”

Tuchel reacts

Although City have been a dominant force in England this season, sweeping almost everybody aside who they have come up against, Tuchel had the measure of them. The German implemented his tactics to perfection and guided his side to a fully deserved victory.

The win over City capped off what can only be described as an outstanding week’s work. The Blues defeated Crystal Palace 4-1 at Selhurst Park last weekend, securing their biggest win of the Tuchel era so far, before booking their place in the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time in seven years on Tuesday evening. Now, they have ended the week by moving to within one game of lifting the FA Cup for a ninth time.

Considering Chelsea was a club that was in serious danger of missing out on the top-four when they sacked Frank Lampard towards the end of January, to still be in with an excellent chance of finishing third this season, booking a place in the final of the Champions League and lifting the FA Cup deserves enormous amounts of praise.

And the vast majority of that praise should be sent in Tuchel’s direction. The German has arrived at Stamford Bridge and wasted no time in setting out his own philosophy for how he wants his team to play. He has changed the formation, their outlook and the belief they have within as a squad. They fear nobody, proven with wins over Atletico Madrid (twice), Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and City.

To have beaten all of those clubs, and done so without conceding a single goal, deserves massive amounts of plaudits.

-Football.london

Continue Reading

Sports

UCL: PSG advance to semis, beat Bayern on away goals

Published

on

There was joy around Paris, France, last night and among fans of the Paris Saint-Germain Football Club globally as the French team defeated Bayern Munich on away goals to qualify to the UEFA Champions League semifinal.

Eric Maxim Choupo Moting’s header levelled the scores on aggregate but the PSG’s three away goals allowed the French champion to progress to the next round.

In a match where the PSG had many chances to score, it can count itself lucky as the missed chances did not come to bite them at the end as Bayern failed to get the all-important second goal.

In the other quarterfinal, Chelsea conceded a late goal in the 93rd minute but it did not matter as Chelsea qualified to the semifinal with a 2-1 aggregate.

Mehedi Taremi’s exceptional overhead kick beat Chelsea keeper Mendy at the twilight stages of the game but Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell’s goals from the first leg were enough to shepherd Chelsea to the Champions League semis for the eighth time, more than any English side in the competition’s history.

Full-time: PSG 0 Bayern 1 (Aggregate Score- PSG 3 Bayern 3).

PSG qualifies to the UEFA Champions League semis via the away goals rule.

Continue Reading

News

National Sports Festival: Boxer knocks out opponent in 15 seconds

Published

on

Ondo state boxer, Adedeji Adegbola, on Friday, knocked out his opponent, Oluwafemi Adetoye of Yobe state, in a record 15 seconds of their first round heavyweight boxing bout at the ongoing National Sports Festival in Benin.

The bout, held at the Oba Akenzuwa Cultural Center, Benin, was at the semi-finals stag

With the win, Adegbola has qualified for the semi finals of the heavyweight category and placed him with the medals range, alongside five team mates vying in other weight categories.

Adegbola said that he trained very hard for the festival, while expressing his optimism of clinching the gold medal in the heavyweight category.

“I am happy and I thank God, I trained very well ahead of the festival and I thank my coaches for the advice and the training process,” he said.

According to Guinness World Records, the fastest knockout in boxing history was in a Golden Gloves tournament at Minneapolis, United States on Nov. 4, 1947, when Mike Collins knocked out Pat Brownson in four seconds.

Continue Reading

Trending