Football

Mata equalised with arguably his best free-kick yet .

Juan Mata reveals what he said to Ashley Young before free-kick vs Juventus

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Manchester United left it late for the second time in five days as they claimed a famous comeback 2-1 win against Juventus.

The fact that the Serie A champions had not lost a group game at home since December 2009 speaks volumes about the magnitude of the Red Devils' achievement.

There was some confusion as to who had scored the winner, with Paul Pogba initially believing he'd taken the final touch before it was officially marked down as an Alex Sandro own goal.

Yet there was no doubt whatsoever about the equaliser.

Juan Mata curled a beautifully-executed free-kick over the Bianconeri wall and into the top-left corner.

Wojciech Szczesny did not give his finest performance overall and he looked utterly lost for the winning goal - but the former Arsenal man shouldn't bear too much blame for conceding to Mata, even if he took a step the wrong way before making the dive.

The 30-year-old's set pieces have beaten many a goalkeeper over the years. In 2015, he was even named the Premier League's best free-kick taker of all time in a poll.

What Mata told Young 

However, as he hovered over the ball on Wednesday night, it wasn't even clear if the Spanish international was going to take it.

Ashley Young quite clearly eyed it up before making a dummy run. And Mata explained to MUTV, via the Mirror:

“As soon as there was the free-kick in there, I had the confidence that I had to take it.

“I told Ash: 'Please let me take it, because I can go over the wall.'

“It's very difficult for the goalkeeper because they don't see a lot [with the wall so close].

“So I tried to do what I do in training a lot of times, practicing, practicing. It was important to score to make it 1-1 and, after, it led us to the 1-2.

Mata cancelled out Cristiano Ronaldo's opener

"I think because of the venue and the importance of the game, it's one of the best [that I've scored].”

Mata's decisiveness paid off just seven minutes after he had been brought on as a substitute.

In the aftermath of the game, all the talk centred on Jose Mourinho's over-zealous celebrations towards the Juventus fans.

Leonardo Bonucci confronted the Portuguese and he was eventually led away down the tunnel.

Mourinho's over-zealous celebrations irked Juventus

It's a pity that the United manager's antics have somewhat overshadowed his players' achievements, as while this some of the best football they've played all season.

Crucially, too, they are now in a strong position to qualify for the knockout stages, requiring just four more points against Young Boys and Valencia to be sure of a place in the last-16. 

Does Mata get enough credit at United? Have your say in the comments. 

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Topics:
Football
Jose Mourinho
Paul Pogba
Juventus
Juan Mata
Ashley Young
Manchester United

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