Juan played again in Valencia. He played the 90 minutes. He left the pitch with an ovation and chants from the local fans. Manchester United, which was already qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League, lost 2-1.
Juan lived an emotional night in Mestalla. Despite the defeat (2-1), the Asturian footballer was reunited with his former fans. Juan left great friends and beautiful memories during his four seasons in Valencia. The score (goals from Soler and Phil Jones with an own goal for Valencia, and Rashford for Manchester United) leaves the Red Devils second in Group H. Next Monday 17 December, they will know their rival in the last 16 of the Champions League.
Mata disputed the entire match. He completed 91% of the passes he tried and made three shots, one of which could have been the equaliser. The local fans dedicated a song to him when he left the pitch. Mata´s mark in Mestalla goes beyond the numbers, although these were outstanding. He scored 46 goals and gave 52 assists in 174 games. He was key in the conquest of the last title in Valencia´s list of winners, the 2007/08 Copa del Rey. He left the club in 2011, and, although the years go by, the affection felt by the ‘che’ fans still there.
Regreso a #Mestalla de Juan Mata, un ejemplo para el fútbol dentro y fuera del terreno de juego. #ValenciaManU #Champions pic.twitter.com/pBteAbEFJb
— Ricardo Pomares (@ricpomares) 12 de diciembre de 2018
After finishing the first phase of the Champions League, ManU will now focus on the Premier League, a competition that is in the spotlight in the Xmas season. This Sunday, at Anfield, awaits Liverpool, leaders of the competition. A special rival for both United and Juan, who has left some of his best actions in the English football against the Reds.
Juan Mata reflects on tonight’s #UCL meeting with his former club… #MUFC pic.twitter.com/pKHrq4CkJZ
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) 12 de diciembre de 2018