Paul Pogba was praised by Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho after his valiant effort against Leicester City in the first game of the 2018-2019 Barclays Premier League.
Paul Pogba cut his holiday short and came to join the team after the preseason, despite speculations of him being rested for the first one or two weeks due to the amount of football he played last season, both for Manchester United and the 2018 FIFA World Cup champions France.
Pogba captained the Red Devils and was on the scoresheet with just over a minute played. Mourinho praised Pogba for “putting himself ahead for the team”.
Pogba has been linked with a move to Barcelona this summer, amid rumors of him being unhappy at Old Trafford. Also, the relationship between him and Mourinho have come under constant scrutiny.
Manchester United made a flying start at Old Trafford after they were awarded a penalty in the first few minutes of the game after Alexis Sanchez’s deflected shot was handled by Leicester City’s Daniel Amartey.
Pogba, who was the captain on the night, stepped up for the penalty and after a typical Paul Pogba’s nonchalantly slow-run, he placed the ball in the top-right corner beyond Kasper Schmeichel’s lead.
United had the chance to double their lead before the 80 minutes mark, when Alexis Sanchez’s threw ball found Romelu Lukaku, who somehow managed to spill a clear goal scoring opportunity. Schmeichel made himself big and denied the big Belgian his first goal of the new campaign.
It was in the 83rd minute, that left-back Luke Shaw had a bursting run from his defensive flank as Juan Mata’s aerial ball found the left-back, who first took a horrible first touch but somehow managed to come up with a brilliant finish to give United a two-goal cushion. The goal was Luke Shaw’s first in the senior level.
Jamie Vardy, who was brought in as a substitute did head in a late consolation for the Foxes, after Ricardo Perreira’s cross had hit the post and Vardy was quick to pounce on the rebound.
Leicester goalkeeper, Schmeichel came forward during the last few moments of the extra-time when the Foxes were awarded a corner. The corner managed to find Schmeichel, who put his header just wide of the post and failed to salvage a point for the Foxes.
Pogba who played in the match for 84 minutes was taken off for substitute Marouane Fellaini, but the United boss added that he didn’t expect the Frenchman to play for that long.
Pogba steals the headlines
Pogba looked in excellent form as he brought his World Cup form into the opening moments of the match, coming up with a couple of brilliant early passes before scoring the opening goal.
Amartey’s arm was high when he handled Sanchez’s shot and United were fairly awarded the penalty for it. The video assistant referee was not an option to review the penalty decision as the Premier League is the only one among Europe’s top five league to have decided against the use of the VAR this season.
Pogba who was in his usual flamboyant look, had another different hairstyle, this time with two stars in his scalp to celebrate the second World Cup for the French side.
There was a discussion between Sanchez and Pogba regarding who is going to take the penalty and it was Pogba who went ahead with it.
After an unusual slow run-up to the penalty kick being scored, he didn’t celebrate too much.
Pogba has now scored in his last two games, the first being at the finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup against Croatia.
When Pogba was subbed off for Fellaini in the 84th minute mark, United were already 2-0 up and looked set to secure 3-points and get off and running.
By the time Pogba was subbed, he had more touches of the ball and played more passes than any of the other Manchester United players.
“I didn’t have any pre-season games, I came back on Monday, so it was very hard for the legs,” said Pogba.
“Winning the World Cup is in the past. I like challenges, I want to progress and win more trophies.”