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

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Sports

Salah: I’ll be at Liverpool next season for sure

Published

on

Mohamed Salah

Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah said he will be at Anfield next season “for sure” but would not be drawn over whether he will sign a new contract.

Salah’s deal ends in June 2023, leading to speculation he could be sold if he did not sign a new one as he would leave on a free in a year’s time.

When asked about his future before Saturday’s Champions League final, he said: “I don’t want to talk about that.

“I just want to see Hendo [Jordan Henderson] with the trophy.”

The Egypt striker, 29, added: “I don’t focus on the contract at the moment. I don’t want to be selfish.

“I am staying next season for sure.”

READ ALSO:

Salah’s team-mate Sadio Mane said he would announce his decision on his own future after the final against Real Madrid in Paris.

The Senegal international, who has scored 120 goals in 268 games for the Reds, will also enter the last 12 months of his contract from June.

He told Sky Sports News: “This question [about my future] I will answer after Champions League. If I’m staying or not, I’m going to answer after [the] Champions League.”

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has dismissed suggestions the outcome of Saturday’s game will be a factor in whether some players decide to extend their contracts or not.

“No, not at all,” he said. “What, if we win it they want to go? We are in talks with all the players, it is just not the moment to talk about the results of these talks. None of them are sitting there not knowing what we are planning.

“There is just not the time, we play every three days. The players have this idea, we have this idea, sometimes they match immediately, sometimes not and then we work together.

“We have known each other for ages.”

Salah joined from Roma in 2017 and has scored 156 goals in 253 games for Liverpool.

He has helped the club win the Premier League in 2019-20, the 2019 Champions League, the FA Cup and League Cup this season plus the FIFA Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup during his time at Anfield.

Continue Reading

Sports

Falcons’ Nnadozie wins top French Women’s league award

Published

on

Super Falcons goalkeeper, Chiamaka Nnadozie

Super Falcons goalkeeper, Chiamaka Nnadozie has been awarded with the Bruno Martini Award for Goalkeeping Revelation of the Season in French women’s football, reports soccernet.ng.

The French Association of Professional Football Goalkeeper Coaches awarded the Paris FC goalkeeper for her excellent performance in the league. She helped Paris FC finish third in the league, as the capital team also qualified for a place in next season’s UEFA Women’s Champions League.

The award is voted for by other goalkeepers, professional football goalkeeper coaches, and members of the goalkeeper coaches’ association.

Nnadozie was nominated alongside Stade de Reims goalkeeper, Emily Alvarado and Issy GPS goalkeeper, Colette Morche.

READ ALSO:

The goalkeeper was elated with her recognition in the award given by the AEGB and thanked the association and her club for the laurel.

“I want to use this opportunity to say a big thank you to the AEGB Football Association France, for this great award. A special thanks to Paris FV, you guys made it possible.”

It was Nnadozie’s second nomination and she has now won one of them. She was also selected as one of the best five goalkeepers in the French Women’s league by UNFP, Ligue 1 organisers but missed out on the biggest prize.

Nnadozie has been invited to the Super Falcons ahead of the camping for the Women African Cup of Nations.

Asisat Oshoala also selected her as her favourite Super Falcons goalkeeper and described her as “a very good goalkeeper” in a FIFA Plus TV interview.

Continue Reading

Sports

Breaking: Man City win EPL in dramatic comeback despite Liverpool beating Aston Villa 3-1

Published

on

Manchester City on Sunday clinched their sixth English Premier League title coming back from 0-2 against Aston Villa to a surprising 3-2 win at the Etihad Stadium on the final day of the league.

The title chaser Liverpool although won their game against Wolves but it was not enough to lift the league trophy.

The City’s three goals came in five minutes to seal the title.

The win on Sunday sees Pep Guardiola’s Man City successfully defend their EPL title.

Matty Cash and Philipe Coutinho had given Aston Villa a 2-0 advantage before Man City scored three times in five minutes late in the second half.

A brace from Ilkay Gundogan, a substitute, and Rodi helped City snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and with it the EPL title.

A nervous Man City fell to Cash’s header in the 37th minute before Coutinho doubled Steven Gerard’s side’s lead in 69 minutes.

The introduction of Gundogan changed the dynamics of the encounter, with the German international heading into the net before Rodri drilled in the equalizer two minutes later.

Gundogan completed the comeback from Kevin de Bruyne’s cross to send the fans into frenzy mode as Guardiola’s side clinched the club’s fourth title in five years, punctured by the 2020 triumph of Liverpool, who finished second.

 

The final day final scores are:

Arsenal 5-1 Everton

Brentford 1-2 Leeds United

Brighton 3-1 West Ham

Burnley 1-2 Newcastle (Burnley are relegated)

Chelsea 2-1 Watford

Crystal Palace 1-0 Manchester United

Leicester City 4-1 Southampton

Liverpool 3-1 Wolves

Manchester City 3-2 Aston Villa

Norwich 0-5 Tottenham

Continue Reading

Trending