Juan Mata's Manchester United assist for Chris Smalling in 2015 was one-of-a-kind | OneFootball

Juan Mata's Manchester United assist for Chris Smalling in 2015 was one-of-a-kind

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Juan Mata really was a Premier League treat.

Whether it was in the colours of Chelsea or Manchester United, you just always felt that the little Spanish magician was on the brink of producing something special.

Mata possessed a gorgeous touch, an eye for the flamboyant and a viciously efficient nose for sniffing out goals.

His highlights from his time at Chelsea are the closest thing we can think of to footballing poetry and, while he wasn’t quite as consistent at United, he still produced some sumptuous stuff at Old Trafford.

His stats in England speak for themselves with Mata producing some very tidy numbers indeed.

The Spaniard, who is now a free agent having bid a fond farewell to the Theatre of Dreams, scored 82 goals for his two English clubs.

However, while his goalscoring stands out as a fantastic attribute, it was Mata’s ability to pick out an assist that really set him apart.

Never was that more on show than when Mata pulled a rabbit out of the hat with a magician’s trick of an assist for Chris Smalling in front of the Stretford end.

During their Champions League clash with Wolfsburg in 2015, a United set piece looked to have broken down before the ball fell to Mata on the edge of the box.

Without so much as a second thought, Mata produced the filthiest of touches, back-heeling the ball on the volley right into the path of a grateful Smalling.

As if the back-heel wasn’t enough on its on, Mata was also facing the wrong way, looking in completely the opposite direction to where Smalling was running from.

In the footage below, the brilliance of the touch just gets better with each and every angle it’s shown from, so be sure to check it out:

Unbelievable – us mere mortals wouldn’t even think about trying such a thing let alone actually executing it in front of a packed Old Trafford crowd on a Champions League night.

It was a crucial goal as well, with Smalling’s strike proving to be winner in a tight clash.

Mata, who had earlier scored a penalty, proved to be the difference maker on a night when he once again underpinned his immense worth.

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