Pogba shines as United thrash Leeds

Paul Pogba shined as an under-pressure Manchester United stepped up their pre-season campaign with a 4-0 thrashing of old rivals Leeds on Wednesday.

Pogba
Manchester United’s Paul Pogba (front) fights for the ball with Leeds United’s Adam Forshaw (R) during their pre-season friendly football match at Optus Stadium in Perth on July 17, 2019.

United had faced criticism after an unconvincing 2-0 victory over a depleted Perth Glory on the weekend.

In a much-needed tonic, the Red Devils clinically dismantled Leeds, who have high hopes of returning to the English Premier League for the first time since 2004.

Pogba, who has been linked with a move to Juventus and Real Madrid, starred in United’s dominant first-half and was part of a pretty chain of passing to set up 17-year-old Mason Greenwood’s first senior goal in the seventh minute.

Greenwood’s energetic performance has the teenager in the frame for the side’s Premier League opener against Chelsea on August 11, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said.

“He’s got a chance. He’s more than capable and he’ll always be there in and around the box creating chances,” he told reporters after the match.

Moments later, a powerful strike from Pogba was well saved by goalkeeper Kiko Casilla.

But it was only a matter of time before United broke through with a moment of magic in the 27th minute from Marcus Rashford, a livewire in the first half.

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After a wondrous dribble past the lead-foot defence, the 21-year-old expertly tapped it past Casilla.

Solskjaer changed his entire lineup at half-time in a repeat of Saturday’s match against Perth.

United continued to dictate, with Phil Jones scoring a thumping header from a corner kick in the 51st minute.

Anthony Martial rounded out a spectacular performance in the 68th minute by converting a penalty after Tahith Chong was taken down in the box.

The first clash in eight years between the one-time bitter enemies fizzled out, but a near-capacity Perth Stadium crowd of 55,000 underlined the rivalry’s stature.

Romelu Lukaku was once again absent fuelling speculation he had been dropped from the squad amid reports he was close to securing a move to Inter Milan.

United said the Belgian suffered a knock at training.

“He’s missed two chances to play 45 minutes and at this stage of the season it’s important to get everyone fit, so hopefully he’ll be available soon,” Solskjaer said.

Illness kept out goalkeeper David de Gea, who is reportedly close to signing a new five-year deal with United in excess of £350,000 ($435,000) a week.

United will have further pre-season games against Inter Milan in Singapore on July 20 and Tottenham in Shanghai on July 25, while Leeds will head to Sydney to face Western Sydney Wanderers.

VANGUARD

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