Paul Pogba sealed Manchester United's 4-0 win over Swansea with a delightful finish
The France international showed glimpses of class and power as United powered to victoryDuring a brief appearance at a sponsor’s event at Old Trafford this week, Paul Pogba spoke about being judged on his football rather than his price tag after being replaced as the most expensive player in the world.
Here, at the Liberty Stadium, we saw two sides of the young Frenchman’s game.
Pogba was a powerhouse alongside his new partner Nemanja Matic in midfield, scoring his second goal in as many games and having a hand in two more as Manchester United completed a very different 4-0 win to the one over West Ham on the opening weekend.
Although Pogba showed his brilliance, he can often display a second side to his game
But United’s £89million man could easily have been sent off had referee Jon Moss taken a different course of action over two needless fouls by Pogba in the first half.
The first was a stonewall yellow card for chopping down Tom Carroll long after the Swansea man had played the ball. Pogba’s challenge smacked of pure frustration, petulance even, as Jose Mourinho’s team struggled to break down stubborn opponents. He swept his right leg under Carroll surely knowing what the punishment was likely to be.
Pogba’s second infringement just minutes later was less obvious, but he could not have complained had Moss produced another yellow. This time Martin Olsson was the victim as he tried to play the ball out from the left side of Swansea’s defence. Pogba had tracked Olsson’s run and again must have realised that he had little chance of winning the ball. Once more, the right leg came around, and again his opponent went crashing to the turf.
Pogba was booked early on for a crunching challenge on Swansea midfielder Tom Carroll
The Frenchman then tested referee John Moss's patience with a couple of dicey challenges
Moss thought long and hard as the Swansea fans called for Pogba to be sent off. Maybe Pogba’s status counted in his favour on this occasion. Maybe Moss remembered an incident in United’s game against West Ham at Old Trafford last November when he booked Pogba for diving and then had to send Mourinho to the stands for furiously kicking a water bottle in protest. Maybe Pogba just got lucky.Moss thought a verbal – and one would have thought final – warning would suffice after reassuring an anxious Pogba that he was not going to produce a red card.Swansea’s players did their best to antagonise the former Juventus man into transgressing again without success. To compound their sense of injustice, it was United’s No.6 who rose unmarked to meet Daley Blind’s header just before half-time. Lukasz Fabianski did exceptionally well to turn it against the underside of the bar and down onto the goal-line, but Eric Bailly was first to react and stab the ball home.
He flew into defender Martin Olsson and the Liberty Stadium crowd were jeering for a red
His late tackle on the left back put Pogba's heart in his mouth but he remained on the fieldIt was notable that Mourinho resisted the temptation to replace Pogba at half-time to avoid the risk of another booking, or even when he brought on Marouane Fellaini in the 75th minute.
Instead, Fellaini took up position next to Matic and Pogba was pushed forward to replace Juan Mata at No.10. It worked a treat.
Romelu Lukaku claimed United’s killer second goal five minutes later and two more quickly followed as Swansea crumbled.
Pogba was involved in both of them. First, he intercepted the ball inside his own half and broke forward before feeding Henrikh Mkhitaryan. When the Armenian slipped a lovely return pass into Pogba’s path, he drew Fabianski before clipping the ball expertly over the Polish keeper.
The France international then towered above the defence and headed into the crossbar
The ball then bounced down for a grateful Eric Bailly to poke home and give United the lead
Pogba blasts a free kick over the bar as United ramp up the intensity in South Wales