Manchester United player ratings: How did Mata do on debut alongside RVP?

One much maligned player upstaged both United superstars in 2-0 win, while Wayne Rooney also made his return from injury from the bench.

Juan Mata's debut for Manchester United ended in a 2-0 win for the Reds against visitors Cardiff City, managed by former home favourite Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Robin van Persie netted the opener early on, but the game wasn't an easy one for United, and it wasn't until Ashley Young's outstanding long range strike that the Old Trafford crowd began to relax.

See below for player ratings from the game:

David de Gea 6.5/10 - De Gea had very little to do in the game, with just the one shot on target to deal with, though the former Atletico man could have perhaps been a little more confident in dealing with some Cardiff crosses which he stayed on his line for. 

Rafael 6.5/10 - Full of running and attacking intent for the majority of the match, eager to get forward and join the United attack.

Chris Smalling 6/10 - Stretched by the pace of Campbell at times and looked somewhat of a weak link in a United defence fairly untroubled in general.

Jonny Evans 6.5/10 - The more impressive of the two United centre backs, and rarely looked flustered. Made one great run from deep after United went 2-0 up, rampaging forward and curling a right footed shot just wide from 25 yards.

Patrice Evra 6.5/10 - Struggled a little defensively with a lot of Cardiff pressure down the wing, but played a vital part in the first United goal and was positive going forward in support of Young.

Phil Jones 6.5/10 - Hard to think where Jones is going to end up at United, as he will want to be getting games in the position he is going to play for the rest of his career. Determined as always and  didn't do much wrong, but it would be better for him to be getting minutes alongside Evans, rather than in a midfield position it's hard to imagine him occupying next season.

Ryan Giggs 6/10 - Given a run out against his hometown club, though at times struggled to keep up with the midfield ebbing and flowing. Clearly still has an eye for a pass, but surely David Moyes should be looking to bring in another midfielder during the window to allow the Welshman to take a step back from the first team.

Antonio Valencia 6.5/10 - With him and Ashely Young two of those most at risk from Juan Mata's arrival, the Ecuadorian will be a little disappointed not to have had the same impact as the Englishman. Hit the bar from Young's cross just before Van Persie's goal, and hit the post in the last 15 minutes with a great strike, but his general play was a little less confident than Young's.

Ashley Young 8/10 - Arguably Young's best game for United in two seasons. Provided a great cross that led to Van Persie's goal, and looked a threat throughout down the lefthand side. His strike from distance to put United two up was sublime, as he dropped his shoulder and made the space to smash a shot into the bottom corner from fully 30 yards.

Juan Mata 6.5/10 - The Spaniard struggled a little on his debut to begin with, doing well to find space between Robin van Persie and the midfield but often a touch off with his normally exemplary passing. But maybe that's being a tad harsh, purely because we all know just how good he can be. He did play a part in United's first goal, crossing the ball out to Patrice Evra to run at the Cardiff defence before Young's delivery. Had one shot on target on the hour mark from just outside the box, and nearly scored from Evra's cutback with ten minutes left. Replaced to a standing ovation with 5 minutes remaining, after what he will look back on as a relatively confident and comfortable debut.

Robin van Persie 7.5/10 - The returning striker looked surprisingly sharp despite missing seven games with injury. Scored the opening goal after David Marshall had saved his header, and then shot just wide from a tight angle as he led the line well. Getting him playing every week will give United a world class goal threat again.


Wayne Rooney 7/10 - Made his own return from injury as he replaced Van Persie and got right into the action. Had a long range strike that deflected just wide, and fired wide again from distance just before the final whistle.

Tom Cleverley 6.5/10 - Provided a more energetic option alongside Jones in central midfield after replacing Giggs, and displayed some neat passing when United stretched an attacking Cardiff.

Adnan Januzaj 6/10 - Brought on for Juan Mata for the last 5 minutes, and the youngster will be hoping that he hasn't lost his place in the team with the Spaniard's arrival. Had one shot just wide in extra time, but had little time to influence the game much.

image: © little-pete

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