Juan Mata kept Manchester United’s hopes alive of playing in the Champions League next season with a vital winner against Norwich City at Carrow Road this afternoon on a day Louis van Gaal celebrated his 100th game in charge of the club.
Louis van Gaal rested Marcus Rashford and Daily Blind while Canaries manager Alex Neil benched his team’s topscorer Dieumerci Mbokani in the very important clash.
Relegation threatened Norwich had the first real chance of the game when forward Cameron Jerome connected a cross with a powerful header but it was straight at David de Gea.
United suffered another injury setback as Italian international Matteo Darmian came off the worst after a collision with Nathan Redmond and was replaced by Cameron Borthwick-Jackson.
The Red Devils best chance came from a corner as defender Chris Smalling climbed highest to meet Juan Mata’s cross but his header went over the bar. Memphis Depay had his freekick blocked by the Norwich wall minutes later as the first half ended goalless.
The visitors had an early opening in the second half as Mata brilliantly picked out fellow Spaniard Ander Herrera but his half volley wasn’t as apt as it hit the side netting.
Mata again picked out Antonio Valencia with a fabulous reverse pass but the Ecuadorian cross was blocked out by the Norwich defense.
Congolese striker Mbokani came on and nearly game the home side the lead but totally miss-timed his header as de Gea collected easily and at the other end Wayne Rooney ran unto a pass from Valencia and slipped it to Juan Mata who made no mistake as he finished with aplomb to give United a 1-0 win.