Majestic Mata inspires Manchester United to first Champions League win in 18 months

first_img1 Juan Mata Juan Mata scored one and set up the other as Manchester United recovered from a goal down to pick up their first victory in the Champions League proper since March 2014 with a 2-1 win over Wolfsburg.The Bundesliga side went ahead after just four minutes at Old Trafford as Daniel Caligiuri beat the offside trap to slip past David De Gea.United pressed hard for an equaliser and it came before half-time through Mata’s penalty after Caligiuri had handled.The Spaniard then turned provider with an outrageous piece of skill for Chris Smalling to strike the winner after the break and, despite substitute Andre Schurrle’s late chance, the Red Devils held on for a vital three points.With United seeking to recover after a 2-1 defeat to PSV on Matchday 1, it was the visitors who exposed the Red Devils’ flimsy defence to steal an early lead.Antonio Valencia, never the most natural right-back, failed to step up with the rest of the home backline, allowing Caligiuri to confidently finish past De Gea with no player in red within yards of him.United’s response was impressive though, and Mata looked destined to find the far corner but saw his curling effort cleared away by a last-ditch dive from Dante.Anthony Martial was in sparkling form yet again after his exhilarating start to his United career, and he showed individual inspiration to jink past a few Wolfsburg defenders before firing narrowly wide.The French teenager then raced to the byline and squared for Wayne Rooney, who inexplicably blazed over with the goal at his mercy.United did level proceedings just after the half hour mark and it was goalscorer Caligiuri who became the villain, handling Mata’s cross before the Spaniard coolly dispatched the resultant spot-kick.Mata then brilliantly engineered a chance for Memphis Depay, but the Dutchman was denied by Diego Benaglio’s feet to maintain parity at the break.Eight minutes into the second half, Mata produced a sublime piece of improvisation to scoop a through ball to Smalling who steered past the despairing Benaglio.United’s intensity then dropped drastically after edging ahead, and former Chelsea man Schurrle nearly made them pay for their complacency but could only drag wide after twisting and turning past Daley Blind.While Rooney had a relatively quiet night in front of goal, the United captain made a vital block to clear Dante’s goal-bound effort as the Bundesliga runners-up pushed in vain for a late leveller.In the other match in Group B, CSKA Moscow survived a late fightback from PSV Eindhoven to win 3-2 in Russia, meaning all four sides are level on three points after two games.last_img

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