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Winning debut

Thursday, January 30, 2014

LONDON - Manchester United's record signing Juan Mata enjoyed a winning debut on Tuesday as his new club recorded a 2-0 victory at home to Cardiff City in the English 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 STG37 million ($F116.897m) 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.

Ashley 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 Champions League places, but they inched to within 12 points of Arsenal after the London club's slip-up at St Mary's.

Bidding to move four points clear of second-place Manchester City, Arsenal fell behind in the 21st minute when centre-back Jose Fonte headed in a left-wing cross from Luke Shaw.

The visitors sprang to life early in the second half, equalising through Olivier Giroud's deft back-heel and going ahead when Santi Cazorla drilled home, only for Adam Lallana to sweep in an equaliser two minutes later.

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