Paul Pogba showed what Manchester United has been missing in his first appearance for the club this calendar year.
Pogba, who had been sidelined since December because of an ankle injury, entered Friday’s marquee Premier League match against Tottenham Hotspur in the 63rd minute with his team trailing on Steven Bergwijn’s first half goal. By the time it was over, Pogba had created the chance that earned the Red Devils a valuable point in London in the 1-1 draw.
The decisive play happened with just over 10 minutes remaining. Pogba, who helped France win the World Cup in 2018, appeared boxed in on the right side, surrounded by four defenders. But he pulled Eric Dier toward the end line after a series of shimmies, then undressed the England international with some slick footwork before surging into Spurs 18-yard box, where Dier promptly hacked him down.
Referee Jonathan Moss immediately pointed to the spot, from which Bruno Fernandes converted with ease past Pogba’s international teammate Hugo Lloris:
It was the first match for both teams since the global coronavirus pandemic shut the Premier League down in mid-March. Pogba’s contribution was especially sweet. Not only did it help the fifth-place Red Devils put to points between themselves and sixth-place Sheffield United — although the Blades have a game in hand — it prevented Spurs from leapfrogging Wolverhampton Wanderers into seventh. Tottenham is coached by former Man United manager Jose Mourinho, who publicly fell out with Pogba in the months before he was fired in late 2018.
But the outcome could’ve been even worse for Mourinho, who replaced Mauricio Pochettino last November. Lloris robbed Anthony Martial with an acrobatic save that prevented the visitors from equalizing earlier. And Moss actually signaled for another spot-kick for United in second-half stoppage time, a decision that was ultimately (and correctly) overruled by the video assistant referee following a short review, which clearly showed that Fernandes had initiated contact with Dier and not the other way around.
Mourinho is now winless in both games this season against his previous employer. In December, United topped Spurs 2-1 at Old Trafford.
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