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Sports

Solskjaer encouraged by Pogba performance

The midfielder had not played since December 26 due to an ankle injury.
Published June 20, 2020
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Manchester United’s Paul Pogba is desperate to make up for lost time after his long injury absence, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said after the France midfielder impressed in Friday’s 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur.

Pogba, who had not played since December 26 due to an ankle injury, came off the bench in the second half and won a penalty that Bruno Fernandes converted to equalise for United.

The 27-year-old Pogba has been criticised at times for a perceived lack of effort during his United career, but turned in an all-round performance in their first game back since the season was halted in mid-March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It is great to see (Pogba) show his qualities and the contribution he made was big in us getting a penalty,” Solskjaer said. “He has had horrific injury-hit season and he is desperate to make up for lost time.

“Paul always has a point to prove to himself and to us. He expects a lot from himself and wants to be the best. He trains hard and loves football.”

Pogba completed 17 of 18 passes, made two blocks and recovered the ball four times in 34 minutes on the pitch in what was just his ninth appearance of the season.

“Paul did everything a midfielder should do, he tackled, won passes and showed some skills, so fantastic to have him back,” Solskjaer added.

“It has been great having him back training with us. On and off the pitch, he is such an enthusiastic and passionate boy. Everyone can see the quality he can provide.”

The draw kept United in fifth place, two points behind Chelsea, who have played a game less and travel to relegation-threatened Aston Villa on Sunday. Spurs stayed eighth in the table.

Southampton hammer Norwich 3-0

Southampton hammered bottom side Norwich City 3-0 after scoring twice in five minutes soon after the break and adding another late on in their Premier League game at Carrow Road on Friday.

Danny Ings, Stuart Armstrong and Nathan Redmond all netted as Saints notched their seventh away win of the season and left Norwich on 21 points, six adrift of the safety zone and having played a game more than their relegation rivals.

Ings struck the bar in the first half but made no mistake with a curling effort inside the penalty area in the 49th minute to open the scoring with his 16th league goal of the season.

Armstrong finished with an accurate shot, squeezed just inside the left-hand post and outstretched arm of goalkeeper Tim Krul, for the second in the 54th after the visitors had broken away quickly and caught the home defence scrambling.

It could have been even worse for the hosts minutes later when new Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse had an effort cleared off the line by Max Aarons.

But Redmond did eventually add to the scoreline with a deserved goal after a fine individual performance, dropping his shoulder to round the Norwich defence and shooting across the keeper to net in the 79th minute.

The victory lifted Southampton above Newcastle United into 13th place on 37 points from 30 games and was fully deserved on the basis of their strong second-half showing.

It could have been a lot different had Norwich taken their early chances, notably one for Josip Drmic, the Swiss international making his first start since signing at the start of the season from Borussia Moenchengladbach.

He showed his rustiness as the ball got stuck under his feet after he was smartly cued up by Teemu Pukki in the eighth minute.

Pukki had a good chance of his own from close range midway through the second half but was blocked by Jan Bednarek in what was characteristic of a tired-looking performance by Norwich.

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