*In this photo; Manchester United’s new signing, Spanish midfielder Juan Mata (left) vies with Cardiff City’s English midfielder Jordon Mutch during the EPL match at Old Trafford in Manchester, northwest England, on January 28, 2014. United won 2-0. –
Manchester United’s record signing Juan Mata enjoyed a winning debut as his new club recorded a 2-0 victory at home to Cardiff City in the Premier League.
Leaders Arsenal, meanwhile, spurned an opportunity to move four points clear after drawing 2-2 at Southampton, but Liverpool tightened their grip on fourth place with a superb 4-0 defeat of derby rivals Everton.
Mata started at Old Trafford, three days after making a £37.1m move from Chelsea, as former United striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer returned to his old stomping ground as Cardiff manager.
Last season’s top scorer Robin van Persie was also included in United’s starting line-up, after seven weeks out with a thigh strain, and the Dutch striker broke the deadlock in the sixth minute.
Mata found Ashley Young with a raking pass and when his cross was headed against the bar by Antonio Valencia, Van Persie headed in at the second attempt after his initial header was parried by goalkeeper David Marshall.
Young added a fine second in the 59th minute, cutting in from the left flank and arrowing a drive into the bottom-right corner, before Wayne Rooney made his return from injury as a substitute for Van Persie.
United, who had lost three of their previous five home league games, remain six points below the UEFA Champions League places, but they inched to within 12 points of Arsenal after the London club’s slip-up at St Mary’s.