Stu­art Mathieson

Glossop Advertiser - - Sport - Stu­art.mathieson@men-news.co.uk @StuMathiesonMEN

IT had all been very cosy. As the play­ers made their way out for their pre-match warmups, Jose Mour­inho took a minute to soak it all in.

For a man who has ex­pe­ri­enced the heat of the Nou Camp, An­field, and the Sta­dio San Paolo this will have felt like a breeze in the South Wales sun­shine as Rocky’s ‘Gonna Fly Now’ screeched out of the PA sys­tem.

All the while, there was not an au­di­ble boo when United’s line-up, ●● un­changed for the first time since De­cem­ber, was read out.

But changed. that quickly

A nar­row United barely had a minute to catch their breaths as Swansea pressed and har­ried – roared on by a vo­cif­er­ous support. Mar­cus Rash­ford, the vil­lain of the re­verse fix­ture last sea­son, will rarely have ex­pe­ri­enced an at­mo­sphere like ●● this and Paul Pogba, for all his ex­pe­ri­ence, was feel­ing the heat.

That hack­neyed ‘What a waste of money!’ chant made a reap­pear­ance as Pogba toiled in the firsthalf with some mis­guided flicks and the French­man was guilty of a cou­ple of late tack­les.

But, when it mat­tered most, the 24-year-old made the dif­fer­ence in a tight game – in an un­prece­dented man­ner.

Not only did Pogba’s cross win United that cru­cial cor­ner be­fore half­time, it was his glanc­ing header which clipped the bar and al­lowed Eric Bailly to fire home.

It was a de­served first- ever goal in red for Bailly, who was a colos­sus through­out, but he was quick to rush to Pogba in the cel­e­bra­tions.

Fi­nally, Mour­inho had what he wanted: a set­piece goal and a left­field goalscorer to bail his side out be­fore a late sec­ond­half goal salvo from Lukaku, Pogba and Mar­tial.

For a man who looked re­mark­ably sus­cep­ti­ble un­der the high ball last sea­son, it marked quite a turn­around for Pogba.

This was the mo­ment where the mid­fielder puffed his chest out and stood up to his crit­ics – 21,000 of whom were in the sta­dium – with Mour- inho trust­ing him by leav­ing him on. Again. It was yet an­other test of his fu­ture cap­tain cre­den­tials and while some will argue he was lucky to still be on the field, af­ter a late tackle in the first half, he did not shy away.

There was no lash­ing out, no hands be­ing thrown up in the air and he in­stead added a goal and an­other as­sist to his tally.

Given how both Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic and Wayne Rooney have de­parted, two lead­ers who helped make the dif­fer­ence in this fix­ture last sea­son, this was a real test of a young United side.

And they stood up to it.

Paul Pogba cel­e­brates with Romelu Lukaku

Romelu Lukaku scores United’s sec­ond goal at Swansea

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