The 21st century has seen the rise and fall of the Golden Generation of Spanish Football. From Xavi and Iniesta to Silva and Mata, the team has never been short of talented world class midfielders. The later has always been the most under rated as well as under appreciated defender for the Spanish armada.
On his birthday, Sports-nova wishes the Spaniard with a special tribute by providing with a collection of his top 4 goals.
4) Versus Estonia, FIFA World Cup Qualification 2010 at Estadio Romano, Merida:
After making his debut for the La Roja in 2009, the Spaniard had to wait for 1 more year to score his first goal in his national colours. In a 2010 World Cup qualifying match against Estonia, Spain were leading 1-0 courtesy a Fabregas goal against the East Europeans when Mata came on for David Silva in the 79th minute. Spain doubled their lead 3 minutes later through Santi Cazorla. But the youngster was to have his moment in the second minute of stoppage time. Santi Cazorla provided a perfect pass towards the back post for the then Valencia midfielder. After brilliantly tapping down the ball with his left, quick feet from Mata allowed him to shrug off Ragnar Klavan just enough to find an opportunity to shoot. His powerful left footer crashed into the near post beyond the reach of keeper Sergei Pareiko.
3) Versus Sporting Gijon, La Liga 2009 at Mestalla Stadium, Valencia:
Juan Mata was still a young player in 2009 and was quickly going up the ranks at Valencia when Unai Emery was in charge. In a disappointing 2-3 loss against Sporting in the Liga saw Mata scored probably his best goal in a Los Che shirt. With Valencia trailing 1-3 into the stoppage time, midfielder Ruben Baraja sent in a cross onto the left side for Mata. The number 16 neatly chested down the ball to control nicely with his left foot, before neatly chipping the ball passed an onrushing Sergio Sanchez with his right.
2) Versus Newcastle United, Premier League 2013 at St. James’ Park, Newcastle:
Juan Mata moved to Stamford Bridge in 2011. During his 3 year stay at Fulham Road he became a superstar providing the most assists for his team mates. He also scored quite a few, but none better than the one he scored against Newcastle far north. With the game tied at 1-1, Ivanovic’s cross from the right was deflected onto the path of Fernando Torres at the hour mark. Torres just teed up the ball on the edge of the penalty box for Mata with a nice first touch. Mata fired in a first time left footed curler that crashed into the top left corner giving Tim Krul no chance to get near it. Chelsea unfortunately lost the match courtesy a double strike from Moussa Sissoko late into the match.
1) Versus Liverpool FC, Premier League 2015 at Anfield, Liverpool:
The Spaniard moved to title rivals Manchester United in 2014 and has since scored 30 times in 137 appearances. But probably neither was as great as the first one he scored in the North West derby in March 2015 in terms of quality, stature as well as importance. With 14 minutes on the clock the Spaniard played a little pass onto Angel Di Maria near the penalty area. The Argentine saw the run of the Spaniard from the right and chipped the ball towards him over the Liverpool defence. Mata made the run towards the ball and hit an impeccable bicycle kick on the running ball. The bicycle kick whisked passed Mignolet without giving him chance to move.
Photo by Ronnie Macdonald