Returning Paul Pogba Scores, Leads Manchester United Past Newcastle United

Gianni VerschuerenFeatured ColumnistNovember 18, 2017

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 18:  Jonjo Shelvey of Newcastle United and Paul Pogba of Manchester United in action during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Newcastle United at Old Trafford on November 18, 2017 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Paul Pogba scored on his return to the pitch, as Manchester United grabbed an easy 4-1 win over Newcastle United during Saturday's Premier League action. 

Dwight Gayle gave the hosts an early scare as Newcastle were the better side in the first 30 minutes, but it was one-way traffic after that. Anthony Martial and Chris Smalling turned the situation around before half-time with goals, and Pogba got on the board after the break.

Romelu Lukaku made it 4-1 after 70 minutes, before Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrated his return to the pitch. 

Here's a look at the teamsheet, via Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News:

The match had a sloppy start as both teams failed to build an early rhythm. The first chance fell to the hosts, but star forward Lukaku couldn't keep his shot on target after good work from Antonio Valencia.

Ciaran Clark sent a header high and wide before the Magpies took a shock lead through Gayle, who turned a smart pass from DeAndre Yedlin into a goal no one saw coming, per Fox Soccer:

And the early momentum wasn't a fluke. Just minutes later, Jacob Murphy almost took advantage of some indecisiveness in the Manchester defence, beating Smalling before shooting narrowly wide.

United took control of possession as the half wore on, but there was no fluidity in their attack, and chances were rare. The returning Pogba clearly wasn't at his best, and his pairing with Nemanja Matic meant there was little movement, making it easy for the Magpies to defend.

But Pogba showed his class eight minutes before half-time, as he beat his marker before lifting a cross into the box, where Martial headed home the equaliser.

Former England international Gary Lineker was impressed:

Jonjo Shelvey put David De Gea to work with a great shot from a long way out, before the visitors suffered another setback to end the half. Smalling, who was at fault for Gayle's opener, nodded home a cross from Ashley Young to give his side the lead.

Per ESPN FC's Rob Dawson, the Red Devils improved significantly as the half wore on:

The hosts pushed the pace early in the second half, and Lukaku and Martial set up a nice combination that ended with the latter firing wide. 

A third goal seemed inevitable and it was Pogba who found the net on his return, thanks to a clever header from Marcus Rashford, who could have gone for goal himself.

B/R Football weighed in on the action:

The Red Devils dominated proceedings at this point, but manager Jose Mourinho didn't want to take unnecessary risks. Pogba was taken off after 70 minutes, just before Lukaku added to the lead. Juan Mata played the Belgian in, and the former Everton man snapped his scoreless streak for the club, bagging his first club goal since September.

Ibrahimovic celebrated his return to the pitch shortly after, coming on to a standing ovation after 77 minutes. The Swede could have scored shortly before the final whistle, but his effort was too close to goalkeeper Robert Elliot.