Paul Pogba double strike gets Manchester United moving again
World's most expensive footballer back on song at Old Trafford as United sink Fenerbahce
Manchester United 4 Fenerbahce 1
Two goals from Paul Pogba eased the Man Utd to a 4-1 win over Fenerbahce in their Europa League Group A encounter as Jose Mourinho got his red bus moving again.
Pogba, the world's most expensive player, hasn't enjoyed the easiest of starts to his second stint at Old Trafford but he found his range against a Turkish opponent who had little to offer in the way of attacking threat.
Pogba's brace was warmly welcomed by Mourinho, who then turned on the media for their recent criticism of the French midfielder. "Two days ago he was the worst player in the Premier League and 48 hours later he's phenomenal," said the Portuguese, referencing the negative press Pogba received after Monday's goalless draw with Liverpool, after which United were accused of parking the bus at Anfield.
"I'm happy with his performance because he gave us what we need."
Admitting that Pogba has yet to find the consistency that convinced United pay Juventus £89m for his services in the summer, Mourinho explained: "Pogba needs time. I was in Italy, I know Italian football. To be in Italy for four or five years and come back I was not expecting it to be a click of the fingers for intensity. He needs time."
Pogba's first goal, just after the half hour mark, came from the penalty spot and he later revealed that he had asked Wayne Rooney (back captaining the side for the first time since September) if he could take the spot kick following Simon Kjaer's foul on Juan Mata. "I told Wayne I wanted to take the penalty and he let me," he told BT Sport. "I am very happy to score that penalty and from a player like him to let me it is big respect so I am very glad."
Three minutes after Pogba's spot kick, United were 2-0 to the good, and again it was a goal that came from the penalty spot. This time a foul by Sener Ozbayrakli and this time Anthony Martial was the man who took responsibility and drove the ball into the Turkish net.
Pogba got his second and United's third on the stroke of half-time finishing off a crisp move involving Rooney and Jesse Lingard with a sweet curling strike from 20 yards.
Lingard fired home from a similar distance three minutes into the second-half to make it 4-0, while the impressive Juan Mata was twice denied the chance to make it five.
United, who play Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, were guilty of taking their foot off the gas in the final stages and former Red Devil Robin van Persie was able to grab a consolation goal late on, and his strike drew applause from all corners of Old Trafford.
"With the fourth goal we stopped and they tried to have a reaction which they did," reflected Mourinho. "I am never happy to concede a goal. We lacked a bit of concentration but that is the nature of the players and lots of changes, it is acceptable."