The Spaniard, rested against both Southampton and Crystal Palace, was handed a place in the starting XI again Peter Bosz’s men.
And he was a bubbling presence throughout, always drifting into pockets of space and intelligently moving the ball along as Man United quickly took hold of proceedings in Stockholm.
Speaking after the game, Mata noted that his manager prepared his side perfectly ahead of what was an all or nothing final.
“Mourinho hates losing, during the week he tried to motivate the team as well as he could, focusing on not committing any errors, we didn’t make any mistakes and we played well,” he said.
“It was all or nothing and as we won its fair to say its been a good season, three trophies, we’re in the Champions League next season so we’re very happy. We defended well, we scored in important moments, we showed how to play a final.
“We left the best until last, it was all or nothing, if we’d lost and not got into the Champions League the fans and directors wouldn’t have been happy.
“But if you’d told us at the start of the season we’d win three trophies and be in the Champions League we’d have taken it.”
Perhaps this is always what Mourinho wanted; it was, in hindsight, somewhat typical of the Portuguese to synthesise the meaning of his first season in charge at Old Trafford, whether it would be judged as a huge success or cataclysmic failure, into one game on neutral territory.
As he wheeled off to celebrate with his son and players, before turning to the corporate boxes containing stars of the past and raising one finger in that wonderful Mourinho way, it all made sense. The 54-year-old planned this game down to a tee; the mechanics behind this performance had been ingrained for some time, you felt. Why we as supporters were ever doubtful, concerned with the seemingly radical eggs-in-one-basket approach, is a mystery.
It’s almost as if we forgot that Mourinho is the master of these occasions; big performances on big occasions, engineered with exceptional craft from start to finish, are indeed exactly why United hired him in the first place.