Mata nets his 50th club goal as United dispatch soggy Seagulls on their way to Carabao Cup quarter-final
Brighton and Hove Albion: 0 Manchester United: 3
S. McTominay 44; J. Mata 73; P. Pogba 80
There wasn’t much in the way of chances for Graham Potter’s weakened Brighton side to begin with, only a snapshot taken by Alireza Jahanbakhsh just on the edge of the box forcing an ultimately routine save from the latest United academy success, Dean Henderson.
Suddenly, United win a free kick from 35 yards away. Up steps Juan Mata, the resident dead-ball specialist of the team who stands over the ball before delivering a delightful floated cross for midfield coworker Scott McTominay to head home and take the lead.
A surprise chance fell to Leandro Trossard right on the penalty spot after a low cross was able to slice through the United defense. A well-taken shot on his stronger right foot wasn't enough to get the better of Henderson who looked unbeatable as he made the reflex save from point blank range.
The next goal was quite the group effort, with the initial through ball provided by Fred cleverly backheeled and advanced further down the line by van de Beek into the feet of Mata, who displayed his experience with a fake shot before finishing through Lewis Dunk’s outstretched leg with his weak foot to make it the 50th club goal for the 32-year-old Spaniard.
Back from a lengthy injury was Paul Pogba who picked up right where he left off with his usual Hollywood standard of quality, materializing as a free kick of such quality that it left goalkeeper Jason Steele rooted to the spot.
Waiting for them in the semifinals are a newly reinvented Everton side that won't just roll over at the first sign of competition - game on.