Mata admits United needed a big performance

Juan Mata scored United's second goal against Leicester
Juan Mata scored United's second goal against Leicester

Juan Mata admits Manchester United needed Saturday's show of strength against reigning champions Leicester to get back on track.

The international break brought with it a dramatic change in fortunes for United, with Community Shield success and three straight Premier League wins followed by a three-match losing streak in all competitions.

Jose Mourinho's men avoided the ignominy of a fourth loss by overcoming Northampton in the EFL Cup on Wednesday, but the spectre of a third straight league defeat remained.

That has only happened once in the Portuguese's managerial career and was avoided in some style against Leicester, with Chris Smalling, Mata, Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba scoring during a thrilling first half.

Mata was pleased to put a smile back on United fans' faces and hopes similar successes are to follow the 4-1 win at Old Trafford.

Asked if it was the perfect answer to recent struggles, he said: "I think so. I think we needed something like this.

"It is true that we came here after two defeats in the Premier League, we won the cup game during the week but we needed something like this, you know?

"There was a lot of talk about the team and we showed today we can do. I think it was a very good first half, scoring four goals, different goals. We showed how good we are."

Mata could not remember a more dominant and exciting first-half display since joining United from Chelsea in January 2014.

As well as the attacking panache, there was a clinical side to their game, with three of their goals coming from Daley Blind corners.

"We were always working on that," Mata said. "We know that we have strong people, tall people, going to head the ball or to kick it in.

"We as takers, we just try to put it in the box the best way we can, aiming for someone to put it in the back of the net.

"Today we showed that we are very strong on that and as well a nice goal between Daley, me and Marcus. We tried a few times last season and it never worked, but today finally it worked."

Mata hopes United can rack up two more wins before the international break, with Stoke visiting after taking on Zorya Luhansk in the Europa League on Thursday.

Leicester are back in action on Tuesday as Porto arrive for the club's first-ever Champions League home match.

Claudio Ranieri brought off Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez at half-time with that game in mind, leading to a change in formation and fortunes against a United side in cruise control.

Andy King and Demarai Gray came on, with the latter shining off the bench and beating David de Gea with an exquisite strike.

"Obviously it was a difficult first half and to go down the way we did was disappointing," winger Gray said.

"Everyone has to hold their hands up and it's definitely something we can learn from and move onto the next game.

"Obviously we had five minutes of madness in the first half, which knocked us down. But I think it was important in the second half to get back together, get compact.

"We made a few changes and it was a better performance second half. All we can do, like I said, is just learn from it and re-group now."