Skip to main content

Juan Mata makes winning Man Utd start as Arsenal stumble

updated 7:22 PM EST, Tue January 28, 2014
Mata celebrates as Robin van Persie gives Manchester United the lead just six minutes into the Spaniard's debut.
Mata celebrates as Robin van Persie gives Manchester United the lead just six minutes into the Spaniard's debut.
  • Record signing Juan Mata makes Man Utd debut and departs to standing ovation
  • United beat Cardiff City 2-0 as Van Persie marks return from injury with early goal
  • Arsenal stumble at Southampton to allow Man City the chance to go top of the Premier League
  • Liverpool thrash Everton 4-0 thanks to goals from Sturridge (2), Suarez and Gerrard

(CNN) -- Manchester United's record signing Juan Mata made a winning start to his Old Trafford career on a night when Arsenal's Premier League ambitions encountered a setback.

The Spaniard played 85 minutes of United's 2-0 victory over Cardiff City before being substituted to a standing ovation following a promising debut.

"It was a very special day for me. My first game -- my debut -- with a victory. It was perfect. I enjoyed it a lot," Mata told Manchester United's in-house media company MUTV.

"What I love most is to play. So these minutes [on the pitch] are very important. Now I'm going to train and I'm looking forward to playing at the weekend and trying to do my best for the team."

Read: Man Utd complete record Mata signing

Cristiano Ronaldo: A star like no other
Arsenal's Theo Walcott out with ACL injury
Portugal remembers football legend Eusebio
Footballer fights back after cancer
Looking back at 150 years of soccer

Signed for a club record $61 million, Mata -- who trained with his new team-mates for the first time on Monday following his move from Chelsea -- had a hand in United's opening goal.

It came as he swept a diagonal ball out to Ashley Young, whose cross was eventually turned in by Robin van Persie after Antonio Valencia's header hit the crossbar.

The Dutchman had needed just six minutes to score after making his first start since December 10 following a thigh problem.

Young doubled the lead in the second half as United ensured that the return of 1999 Champions League winning legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, now in charge of Cardiff, to Old Trafford was not a happy one.

United's victory enabled them to close the gap on sixth-placed Everton, who were thumped 4-0 by city rivals Liverpool as Daniel Sturridge (2), Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard gave the home fans a night to remember.

The misery for Blues boss Roberto Martinez was compounded when Romelu Lukaku was forced off the field on a stretcher after a worrying injury to his ankle.

Dropped Points

Another manager who may be feeling a little unease is Arsene Wenger, whose Arsenal side lost two potentially crucial points at Southampton in a 2-2 draw.

The Gunners' coach was held up in traffic ahead of the game and the team also struggled to go through the gears, trailing 1-0 at halftime following a lackluster 45 minutes.

Goals from Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla turned the game on its head, but Adam Lallana replied for the hosts to ensure that the match finished 2-2.

Arsenal still lead the Premier League but the draw means second-placed Manchester City can climb above them should Manuel Pellegrini's free-scoring side win at Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday.

Chelsea can also climb above Arsenal on Wednesday, should Jose Mourinho's side beat West Ham at home by more than two goals.

In Tuesday's other games, Swansea and Crystal Palace recorded much-needed wins -- at home to Fulham (2-0) and Hull (1-0) respectively -- while Norwich hosted Newcastle in a goalless encounter that featured a red card apiece for both sides.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:53 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
How Real Madrid's new stadium will look
They splash the cash on the world's best players, now Real Madrid are giving the Bernabeu the same treatment with a bling makeover.
updated 9:09 AM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Football world mourns South African captain Senzo Meyiwa who was shot and killed during a botched robbery in a township near Johannesburg.
updated 9:48 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
A man as a Roman centurion and who earn his living by posing with tourists gestures in front of the Colosseum during a protest where some of his colleagues climbed on the monument on April 12, 2012 in Rome. The costumed centurions are asking for the right to work there after they were banned following a decision by local authorities.
From the ancient ruins of Rome, a new empire rises. But the eyes of the city's newest gladiator light up at thoughts of the Colosseum.
updated 12:22 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Once part of Germany's largest Jewish sports club, now he's the first ISIS suspect to stand trial in a country left shocked by his alleged radicalization.
updated 10:11 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
One goal in eight matches for new club Liverpool, and dumped by the Italian national team -- Mario Balotelli has yet to shine on his English return.
updated 2:19 PM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
Ched Evans smiles during the Wales training session ahead of their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against England on March 25, 2011 in Cardiff, Wales.
Should a convicted rapist, who has served their time in prison, be allowed to resume their old job? What if that job was as a high-profile football player?
updated 8:47 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
After 10 years of golden glory, it's easy to see how Lionel Messi has taken his place among the football gods.
updated 6:34 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
A football fan wipes a tear after Inter Milan's Argentinian defender Javier Zanetti has greeted fans following the announcement of his retirement before the start of the Italian seria A football match Inter Milan vs Lazio, on May 10, 2014, in San Siro Stadium In Milan
When will the tears stop? A leading Italian football club is pursuing a new direction -- under the guidance of its new Indonesian owner.
updated 6:41 PM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Norwegian 15-year-old Martin Odegaard is the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championships qualifying match.
updated 9:10 AM EDT, Fri October 10, 2014
After revolutionizing cricket with its glitzy Twenty20 league, India has now thrown large sums of money at a new football venture.
updated 10:53 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
Get ruthless. That is Rio Ferdinand's message to soccer's authorities in the fight to tackle the scourge of racism.
updated 9:28 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
A picture taken on May 16, 2014 shows 15-year-old Norwegian footballer Martin Oedegaard of club Stroemsgodset IF cheering during a match in Drammen, Norway. Oedegaard is set to become Norways youngest player ever in the national football team.
He's just 15 and the world is seemingly already at his feet. Norway's Martin Odegaard is being sought by Europe's top clubs.