Pogba grateful to be put on the spot

Manchester United's stand-in skipper Paul Pogba scoring from the spot against Young Boys to make amends for missing a penalty against Burnley in the league last month. United won 3-0 in Switzerland, with Pogba scoring two and creating the other.
Manchester United's stand-in skipper Paul Pogba scoring from the spot against Young Boys to make amends for missing a penalty against Burnley in the league last month. United won 3-0 in Switzerland, with Pogba scoring two and creating the other.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BERN • Paul Pogba has thanked Jose Mourinho for trusting him to take a penalty against Young Boys, with the Manchester United manager returning the sentiment in a sign that relations between the two are easing.

The French midfielder scored twice in the 3-0 opening Champions League Group H victory at the Stade de Suisse on Wednesday. His second goal came from the spot.

"I didn't have any doubts about taking the penalty," he told MUTV.

"I know I missed that one against Burnley (in the Premier League) but I won't do the same mistake.

"I had the confidence of the players, they let me take it and I should thank them for this, as well as the manager."

Mourinho in turn praised Pogba for not losing his confidence.

"I like the player to have the courage to take a penalty after one that he missed," he said.

"He missed against Burnley. The next penalty the team have, he is there to take it, to make it 2-0 and to kill the game for us.

"And, if he starts arriving in possible scoring positions, that can be a plus for the team, so I am happy with that (Pogba's first goal)."

At the start of the season, there was speculation Pogba wished to leave United.

Yet after the defeat of Leicester in their league opener, Mourinho said he had never been happier with the Frenchman and their latest exchange indicates a further upturn in their relationship.

Pogba has started this term in prolific form, scoring four goals in six United games after managing six all of last season. His opener at Young Boys featured nifty footwork to sidestep a defender before an exquisite left-footed finish from the edge of the box. The 25-year-old's decisive contribution wearing the captain's armband in the absence of Antonio Valencia also included an assist for Anthony Martial.

The victory was United's third in a row, all away from home, following two successive league defeats by Tottenham and Brighton.

With Pogba putting his stamp on games and Mourinho in an upbeat mood, the atmosphere around United is markedly more relaxed than it was just a few weeks ago.

The United boss also expressed delight at teenager Diogo Dalot's debut performance at right-back, and was full of praise for Luke Shaw.

"I thought Dalot was very good, but I prefer to speak about both full-backs," said the 55-year-old.

"Shaw played (well) like he has done since the start of the season. Dalot is one of the best right-backs in Europe already. He has a lifetime to play for Manchester United.

"What I like most is that after two defeats, three matches away, and three victories - I don't say phenomenal performances but three good, solid performances."

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 21, 2018, with the headline 'Pogba grateful to be put on the spot'. Print Edition | Subscribe