Paul Pogba returns in style to see United ease past Newcastle at Old Trafford

Photo via Sky Sports

Manchester United have got back to winning ways in the Premier League, beating Newcastle United 4-1 at Old Trafford. It was a shaky start, as the Toons grabbed the first goal, but United responded well, taken the lead before halftime. The goals came from Martial, Smalling, Pogba, and Lukaku, while Zlatan made his long awaited return from injury.

United came into the game in high spirits, as they were welcoming back 3 key players from injury in Pogba, Rojo, and Zlatan. It was the Frenchman’s first game since the Champions League outing vs Basel, while Ibra and Rojo had not been available for selection since last seasons Europa League quarterfinal against Anderlecht.

In other team news, Mourinho finally pulled the trigger and started both Rashford and Martial, with Lukaku in between them. Mata got the start at attacking midfield, as Mkhitaryan wasn’t even in the matchday 18. Jones and Bailly both picked up knocks, so Smalling paired up with Lindelof in central defense.

United created the first chance of the game early on. Valencia got down the wing and hit a low cross across the penalty area, but Lukaku could only hit it over the bar from close range.

Newcastle responded well, and grabbed the opening goal of the match. A wonderful run from Yedlin down the wing was capped off by an even better pullback by the American. The ball rolled to Dwight Gayle, and the former Palace man placed his finish off the far post and in. It sucked the air out of Old Trafford, and forced United onto the front foot.

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Newcastle could’ve made it two soon after. Murphy was played through, but his shot just rolled wide of the far post.

United kicked back into gear, and came close to equalising when Lindelof whipped in a brilliant cross. However, it was just a bit high, as Lukaku could only stretch and head it over.

United finally found an equaliser, and it was created by a Pogba masterclass. The Frenchman danced around his marker before dinking over a cross to the back post. Martial jumped highest, and his header flew past Elliot in goal. Game on.

United heaped on the pressure, and were able to take the lead right before half-time. A short corner made its way to Young, who faked out the defender and created enough space to get in a cross. His left footed ball lobbed to the back post, where Smalling was able to bundle it home. It was a quality cross, but the Newcastle keeper probably should’ve been able to come out and claim the cross.

United were the better team to start the 2nd half, and grabbed a deserved 3rd goal 10 minutes into the half. Mata kickstarted a counter attack, and played a long ball down the wing to Lukaku. The Belgian cut inside and crossed it to the back post to Rashford. The youngster headed it back across goal, where Pogba was able to run in and tap it into the net from a few yards out. The goal made it 3-1, and gave United some crucial breathing room.

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David De Gea then reminded everyone that he is the best goalkeeper in the world. Murphy created space for himself at the top of the penalty area, and went for a curling shot to the upper corner. De Gea read it all the way, and was able to punch it out and away.

Paul Pogba was then subbed off, with Fellaini coming on for him. It was a man of the match performance from Pogba who grabbed a goal and assist on his return from injury.

Right after the change was made, Lukaku grabbed a 4th for United. He barreled last several defenders, keeping the ball alive, before smashing a shot past Elliott in goal. It could be a massive goal, and it ends his goal drought, and can restore some of the Belgians confidence.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic then came on to a raucous ovation from the Old Trafford faithful. He replaced Martial, who impressed yet again with his goal.

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Mata came off for Ander Herrera for about the 375th time this season as Mourinho decided to give the taller Spaniard a run out.

Ibra, in an attempt to prove he’s fully fit, went for a jumping side volley. It was well hit, but Elliot was able to make the save.

United’s next match is on Wednesday, as they host Basel in the Champions League.

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