Manchester United 4 Newcastle United 1: Pogba shines as Ibrahimovic makes his return

Manchester United reversed a first-half deficit to win 4-1 after Newcastle had attempted to spoil the return of two Old Trafford stars.

Paul Pogba of Manchester United celebrates scoring his side's third goal during the Premier League match against Newcastle United at Old Trafford on Saturday.   -  Getty Images

Paul Pogba marked his return from injury with a goal and an assist and Zlatan Ibrahimovic made his comeback as Manchester United turned around a first-half deficit to record a convincing 4-1 Premier League win over Newcastle United.

Frenchman Pogba teed up compatriot Anthony Martial for the equaliser before tapping in a third, helping Jose Mourinho's side overcome Dwight Gayle's 14th-minute opener to stretch the team's unbeaten run at home to 37 games.

AS IT HAPPENED

Chris Smalling had nodded the host ahead in first-half stoppage time while Romelu Lukaku ended his personal drought after the break, the Belgian striker smashing in his first club goal since September 30.

Mourinho allowed Ibrahimovic a late cameo off the bench, the Swede making his first appearance in 216 days since suffering a serious knee injury in April.

The result sees United reclaim second place from Chelsea and remain on the coat-tails of pacesetter Manchester City, which won 2-0 at Leicester City earlier on Saturday to lead its neighbours by eight points.

With Eric Bailly and Phil Jones both ruled out through injury, Victor Lindelof was handed a starting spot in a team that reverted to a flat back four after lining up with three centre-backs in the defeat at Chelsea on November 5.

The centre-back barely put a foot wrong in helping Sweden stun Italy in the World Cup play-offs, yet one unfortunate slip let Newcastle in to take a shock lead.

Key Opta stats
  • Manchester United have now won seven consecutive Premier League games at Old Trafford; their longest run since March 2013, when they won 12 in succession under Sir Alex Ferguson.
  • Newcastle have now lost against the Red Devils on 26 occasions in the Premier League; more than against any other opponent in the competition.
  • This was Rafael Benitez's heaviest defeat as a Premier League manager since March 2008, when his Liverpool side lost 3-0 at Old Trafford.
  • Anthony Martial has scored five goals in 11 Premier League appearances this season, one more than he managed in 25 games last term.
  • No player has scored more goals at home than Romelu Lukaku in the Premier League this season (five – joint-high alongside Gabriel Jesus and Leroy Sane).

 

Lindelof looked in position to cut out DeAndre Yedlin's cross until he lost his footing, allowing the late-arriving Gayle to stride onto the ball and angle a low shot across De Gea and into the net via the goalkeeper's right post.

United was fortunate Jacob Murphy narrowly failed to repeat the trick soon after before they turned the game around with two headers before the break.

Both were laid on a plate by sumptuous crosses, starting with Pogba cleverly creating space on the right to set up Martial's equaliser with a clever clip to the back post that allowed his fellow Frenchman to beat the static Yedlin in the air.

Ashley Young followed his team-mate's lead to create the second, as his lofted ball from the left allowed Smalling - who had stayed forward after United had opted to work a short corner - to nod the host ahead.

The half-time scoreline was harsh on Newcastle, which had defended doggedly and carried a threat on the counter. However, any hopes it had of picking up something on its travel disappeared when United extended its lead nine minutes into the second half.

Once again Mourinho's side profited from a pinpoint cross, Lukaku's ball in from the right appearing to tee up Marcus Rashford. However, rather than go for goal, the England international unselfishly cushioned a header inside to allow the advancing Pogba to mark his comeback with the easiest of finishes from inside the six-yard box.

Lukaku, who had scored three times while away on international duty, put two first-half misses to the back of his mind to round out the scoring, the Belgian exchanging passes with Juan Mata before lashing a shot beyond Rob Elliot as United inflicted Newcastle's heaviest defeat under Rafael Benitez.

The loudest cheer of the night, however, was reserved for Ibrahimovic's introduction in the 77th minute. His every touch was hailed by the crowd and he so nearly marked the occasion with a goal, Elliot keeping out an acrobatic volley that demonstrated how the Swede has lost none of his flair for the dramatic during his lengthy absence.

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