Juan Mata was on target in the 2-0 win against Georgia this evening.
It has been a touch season for Juan Mata so far. The Spanish midfielder was an indispensable member of the Chelsea team last season - in fact he was arguably their best player in 2012-13.
But the arrival of Jose Mourinho has made things a little tougher for the former Valencia star. Mourinho does not feel he is strong enough defensively to command a starting berth, and has used him from the bench for most of the campaign so far.
In recent weeks he has changed Mourinho’s mind, beginning ever so slowly to work the Portuguese into giving him more game time - which is vital if he is to be in the Spain squad for next summer’s World Cup. Let’s face it, he has plenty of competition.
But he was in their most recent squad, and came on in the 58th minute of Spain’s game against Georgia in Albacete this evening.
Mata came on for Barcelona attacker Pedro, and had an immediate impact.
After something of a goal-mouth scrap the ball fell to the Chelsea playmaker on his favoured left foot - and he then proceeded to smash in a half-volley to double Spain’s lead.
It also secured the clubs passage to the World Cup in Brazil next summer - as they finish above France by three points.
Spain now go to the World Cup ready to defend their title as World Champions - and still smarting from the hammering Brazil dealt them in the Confederations Cup earlier in the year.
For Mata, this goal was incredibly his first of the season.
In comparison, by this time last season, Mata had already chalked up an impressive tally of five.
Chelsea fans will hope that there is still plenty more to come…
image: © Wshjackson