Marouane Fellaini
Marouane Fellaini scored his second goal at Manchester United against StokeGetty

Manchester United maestro Juan Mata has lavished praise on teammate Marouane Fellaini, claiming the Belgium international "is probably one of the best in the league" in the air.

Former Everton star Fellaini had a dismal debut campaign at Old Trafford under David Moyes but is starting to prove he is worth his £27.5m fee this season.

After scoring his first Premier League goal for the club during the 2-2 draw against West Bromwich Albion when he came on from the bench, Fellaini has become a key player for manager Louis van Gaal, having started in the last six Premier League games.

The Belgium star once again showed his strong heading skills to score the opener during the 2-1 victory against Stoke City on Tuesday 2 December, following a good cross from Ander Herrera.

"In the air, he [Fellaini] is one of the best probably in the league and he can score goals like he did today, arriving from the second line [of attack]," Mata said to MUTV.

"He is very important and I'm very happy for him because he had difficult moments at the beginning. He was very professional, he's a very nice guy and I'm very happy for him."

The Spaniard, who scored the winner in the second half, also hailed his compatriot David De Gea after the goalkeeper made another brilliant save in the final few minutes to deny Mame Biram Diouf and Stoke the draw.

"Like always, big goalkeepers appear when they have to, when the team needs them. That's what David is doing every game," Mata said.

The victory over Stoke means United have won four games in a row, following wins against Crystal Palace, Arsenal and Hull City.

Mata hopes to maintain the momentum ahead of the busy Christmas period, while he expects the club to have better luck with injuries in the second half of the season.

He said: "The spirit is there. We have not been lucky with injuries. We've had important players that could not play but the spirit is there. Everyone was very happy in the dressing room after the game because it was a difficult game and we showed character.

"It was very important to win at Arsenal, and then to get two wins in a row at home. Now we have the chance to have a great December – probably the most important month in the league because we play more [games than in any other month]."