Juan Mata
Mata scored his third goal of the season against Palace.Reuters

Manchester United playmaker Juan Mata has expressed his delight after coming off the bench to score the only goal of the game against Crystal Palace.

The Spaniard has netted nine goals and grabbed five assists in 23 appearances for United since his January move from Chelsea but has been under scrutiny in recent weeks.

After being an unused substitute during the Manchester derby, Mata was benched again for the match against Palace, suggesting Louis van Gaal is unconvinced of his worth.

However he came on in the second half to silence his critics with a crucial goal to lead his side to victory.

Mata said after the game "it was probably one of his most important goals" due to his recent struggles at Old Trafford, and has expressed his delight in his weekly blog.

"The feeling of scoring a goal in Old Trafford is nearly impossible to describe, but I can tell you that is very special... It's like an explosion of joy shared with everybody in the stadium, the players and the crowd. Even more if your goal secures the three points!" he wrote.

"Winning this weekend was very important. We came from a few weeks without victories and these three points take us near the teams at the top, and encourage us to keep working hard and improving our game. Obviously, we know there is still a lot to do in order to get where we want to, but it's easier when you win."

Mata's goal saw United move up to sixth in the Premier League before their crucial visit to Arsenal on 22 November – after the international break.

"We are already thinking about the next game, and it's a big one, in London against Arsenal. I hope we win again and show consistency in our results," Mata said.

"I take this opportunity to send a big hug to all of you and, as always, to thank you for your tireless support at all times. I always try to have good things to share with you and I hope to keep talking about them on this blog."