Sunday, 19 November 2017
Match report: United 4-1 Newcastle
The Frenchman proved just what a huge miss he's been during his two months out, and capped a magnificent man of the match showing with an assist and a goal of his own.
In a further fillip for Jose and United, Zlatan Ibrahimovic stepped off the bench for a 13-minute cameo, to make his return after seven months out with a serious knee injury.
Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku were all picked to play together for the first time, but we did not start well as the visitors took control early on. Before the game, United were the only side in Europe's top five leagues yet to concede a goal at home this season, but that record was ended as Rafa Benitez's side took a shock lead.
DeAndre Yedlin skipped past Ashley Young on the touchline and cut the ball back for the onrushing Dwight Gayle.
Victor Lindelof's unfortunate slip saw the ball drop kindly for the Magpies striker and he made no mistake with a low finish off a post in the fourteenth minute.
Yedlin fired a shot wide but United finally upped the ante and went close through Lukaku, who headed over the bar after Lindelof had picked him out. United continued to press and by half-time had turned the tie on its head with two goals in eight first half minutes.
Pogba turned two Newcastle defenders and whipped in a superb stand-up cross for Martial, who applied a simple headed finish from close range for his seventh of the season. That came on 37 minutes, and, with the interval approaching, the Reds took the lead with their next attack.
Young's superb delivery to the back post picked out Chris Smalling, who rose highest to power home another header via the outstretched leg of keeper Rob Elliot. Newcastle were almost level seconds later, however, as Isaac Hayden's shot was saved by David de Gea, before Matt Ritchie's rebound deflected off Gayle and ricocheted wide. United started the second half on the front foot and it did not take long for us to put the result beyond doubt, with an out-of-this-world team goal ten minutes after the restart. Pogba began and finished the move as he linked with Nemanja Matic to release Lukaku, who crossed for the onrushing Rashford.
In turn, the young striker showed his intelligence and awareness to nod the ball back for the quickly-arriving Pogba, who tapped home from close range.
United, brimming with pace and power, went close to a fourth through Lukaku, whilst Jacob Murphy tested De Gea with a speculative shot from distance at the other end. Pogba was given a standing ovation as he left the field and he watched on as Lukaku - fresh from becoming Belgium's record scorer - rediscovered his goalscoring touch for us.
He cut inside, played a neat one-two with the impressive Juan Mata and smashed high beyond Elliot on 70 minutes. The Newcastle keeper denied Ibra a dream return when he tipped wide from the Swede's acrobatic effort on an almost perfect day for Jose and United - but it's Pogba who will take the plaudits.
United Faithful Man of the Match: Paul Pogba. Got an assist, scored himself and changed the whole dynamic of United's play on his return. Simply immense.
Overall team performance: 8/10