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Paul Pogba rescues ‘awful’ Manchester United with cheeky winner against AC Milan to fire Premier League club into Europa League quarter-finals


Paul Pogba rescues ‘awful’ Manchester United with cheeky winner against AC Milan to fire Premier League club into Europa League quarter-finals

Manchester United reached the quarter-finals of the Europa League with a 2-1 aggregate win over AC Milan – with comeback man Paul Pogba the hero.

Pogba scored minutes after coming on in the second half as the Red Devils won 1-0 at the San Siro on his return to action after more than a month out through injury.

Paul Pogba scored minutes after coming on as a substitute for Man United

The tie was finely balanced at 1-1 following the first leg at Old Trafford and United made a positive in Italy.

Bruno Fernandes fired over from a good position and Daniel James saw penalty appeals against Fikayo Tomori ignored, with Milan in control for the most part.

Stefano Pioli’s men were on top by the end of the period, with Dean Henderson denying Alexis Saelemaekers before Rade Krunic put wide under pressure.

Paul Pogba, who has been out since February 6, came on for Marcus Rashford at the break in a bid to change the dynamic of the game – a change that paid dividends within four minutes.

Paul Pogba came on for Marcus Rashford at the break and went on to score

James saw a shot blocked to start a penalty-box melee in which United kept their cool, with Fred’s pressure on Kessie leading the ball to be pushed onto Pogba. Five yards out but at an acute angle, he shaped to cross only to strike past Gianluigi Donnarumma at the near post.

talkSPORT’s co-commentator for the match, Dean Ashton, said: “Well, we thought it would be a world star that would come on and make the difference and most people would have thought that would be Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but it’s Pogba.

“The cheekiness of this finish is just glorious. Yes, they get a bit of luck as it ricochets in the box. It falls to Pogba six yards out and it looks like he’s going to play it into the back post, gives Donnarumma the eyes and just cooly curls it into the near post.

“What a delightful, creative finish from Paul Pogba.”

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s introduction couldn’t inspire AC Milan to come back

AC Milan could not find the goal that would take the game into extra-time despite Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s introduction.

United joined Arsenal in the next round of the Europa League with Tottenham and Rangers both crashing out.

Boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was delighted with victory and believes there is plenty more to come from his super sub.

“When you win a game of football away from home in a stadium like this against a team like this, you’re very happy,” 1999 treble hero Solskjaer said.

“We started really well I felt. First 15-20 minutes I thought we looked like a very good team.

“Then there was a spell from halfway through the first half to half-time that we rushed things, missed the ball, lost the ball too often, made it a long game.

“I just had to reiterate a couple of things and second half I felt we were much, much better.”

United left-back Luke Shaw felt they were “awful” in the first half but said “it always helps when you’ve got a world-class player like Paul to come on”.

The France international certainly added an extra dimension but Solskjaer believes he remains well short of his match-fit best.

“Paul looked like he’d been out for six weeks, yeah, for sure,” said the United boss, whose side take on Leicester in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Sunday.

“He’s been working really hard but when you play football it’s different and you can see that he needs… he couldn’t play more than 45 and he’ll get better and better.

“That’s a big, big boost for us rest of the season because the boys have done fantastic without him but we know Paul’s qualities.

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