Paul Pogba marked his return to action with a goal as Manchester United came from behind to thrash Newcastle 4-1 at Old Trafford this evening.
The midfielder wrote his name on the scoresheet as his man-of-the-match performance meant the Red Devils remain eight points behind leaders Manchester City after the day’s results.
Newcastle had threatened to cause a huge shock when they took the lead in the 14th minute through Dwight Gayle’s smart finish past goalkeeper David de Gea.
However, it was mostly Manchester United from that point onwards, and goals from Anthony Martial, Chris Smalling, and Romelu Lukaku wrapped up all three points for the home side.
Here are five things we learned from the match:
Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic return
Much of the talk before kick-off had been on the return of Pogba and Ibrahimovic after lengthy spells on the sidelines. However, it was the France international’s contribution to the match that proved to be the difference this evening. Pogba dominated the midfield battle between the two sides and scored a wonderful goal to make it 3-1 in the 54th minute. A great cross from Lukaku was brilliantly headed into the path of the playmaker by Marcus Rashford and the former Juventus man had the easiest tasks to finish into an empty net. Pogba was also influential in setting up Martial for the important equaliser.
United still remain in title race
The Red Devils would have been aware of Manchester City’s 2-0 victory earlier on in the day, and they knew that anything less than a win at Old Trafford would have been damaging to their title hopes. Manchester United are still within eight points of the runaway leaders and the lead up to Christmas will have a significant say in who wins the Premier League this season. Both sides have three games each before facing one another on December 12 and Mourinho won’t want the gap any bigger than it is now.
Lukaku ends seven-game scoring streak
No one would have been more relived to score today then Lukaku himself. The Belgian had scored three goals for his national side midweek but he had gone seven games for United without hitting the net. With Ibrahimovic fit and waiting on the sidelines too, Lukaku knows that he cannot afford to go that long again or the Swede will have no hesitation in replacing him in the starting line-up. However, the 24 year old took his one significant chance well in the 70th minute when he played a neat one-two with Juan Mata inside the box before firing the ball into the roof of the net.
Dwight Gayle need to be given a chance
Newcastle striker Dwight Gayle showed why he should be in the starting 11 with his team’s only goal this evening. Manager Rafa Benitez has repeatedly left the hitman out of the team this season after preferring the physical presence of Joselu up front. However, Dwight Gayle showed why he finished last season on 23 goals in the Championship by expertly finishing a great cross from DeAndre Yedlin in the first half. If Newcastle want a proven goalscorer, then they have one in Gayle.
United concede a goal
For the first time this season, Manchester United conceded at Old Trafford – resulting in them being the last side to ship a goal at home in all five top divisions in Europe. Injuries to Mourinho’s preferred due of Phil Jones and Eric Bailly meant that Victor Lindelof made his full Premier League debut and the defender was at fault for Gayle’s goal, slipping at the vital moment. United fans were hoping the Sweden international could have shown the same qualities he possessed during his nation’s play-off victory over Italy. However, it seems that the young player still has it all to learn in the Premier League.
Manchester United: De Gea, Valencia, Lindelof, Smalling, Young, Matic, Pogba (Fellaini), Mata (Herrera), Martial (Ibrahimovic), Rashford, Lukaku
Subs not used: Romero, Rojo, Lingard, Shaw.
Newcastle United: Elliot, Yedlin, Lejeune, Clark, Manquillo, Ritchie (Aarons), Hayden, Shelvey, Murphy, Gayle (Diame), Joselu (Mitrovic)
Subs not used: Darlow, Gamez, Mbemba, Perez.
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