How Pogba led Manchester derby comeback
It took 16 minutes for Manchester City’s day to go from celebrating the Premier League title to losing to a rival for the second time in a week.
Paul Pogba scored twice in 100 second-half seconds to put Manchester City’s title celebrations on pause, and Chris Smalling made amends for an early error to lead United to a 3-2 win over City on Saturday at the Etihad Stadium.
Vincent Kompany and Ilkay Gundogan scored to stake City to a halftime lead. City can next win the league with a win at Tottenham next week accompanied by a Man Utd loss versus West Brom.
United is now 13 points behind City and four points ahead of Liverpool and Tottenham.
The home support at the Etihad was screaming for a penalty when a sliding Antonio Valencia saw a cross bound off his hand.
United earned a corner kick when Ederson played short to Vincent Kompany out of the box. The Belgian’s pass was picked off by a surging Red Devils press.
Paul Pogba had a few timely interventions in the center of the park, though one was unaided by his teammates and led to David Silva lashing over the goal.
David De Gea made a right leg stop when Bernardo Silva got a tame in-tight effort on goal.
The poetics of Kompany getting on the board in the 25th minute aren’t lost on the blue side of Manchester, and he thundered by Chris Smalling to smoke a header beyond De Gea despite a strong tug on the back of shirt.
An ethereal turn from Gundogan put the title on their lips, as he finished a 1-2 by slipping a goal inside the far post.
Mourinho’s HT message: “We didn’t want to be the clowns”
Jose Mourinho claims Manchester United didn’t set out to spoil Manchester City’s party, that Saturday’s 3-2 comeback victory in the Manchester derby was about just that — the allure of the derby, and three points — but does anyone really believe him?
Just consider the fact that Man City were one win away from lifting the Premier League title and jumping up and down at midfield, after their bitter rivals formed the ceremonial guard of honor and were forced to watch from the sidelines; that it would have been Mourinho’s greatest rival, Pep Guardiola, passing him by and spraying champagne; that City’s successes are directly and immediately identified as United failures.
“My objective here was to get points and not spoil any celebrations,” Mourinho said after the game, and the reporter holding the microphone must have been forced to stifle exasperations — quotes from the BBC:
“I was really sad with the first goal and I think it is the third corner they scored against us this season.
“Then with the second it was important for the players to keep confident. We moved the ball, more than any team has against Manchester City. We pressed a bit higher and we keep the shape to get a good result.
“I think mathematically we need six points to stay in the top four and this win is part of that tonight.” … “Our challenge is to finish second but I want to congratulate City for the title because they are going to win and deservedly. They gave no chance to the others because they had this season of don’t stop winning.
“My objective here was to get points and not spoil any celebrations. The point is, can we improve enough to catch them next season?”
Chris Smalling, who scored the winning goal to cap a 16-minute period which saw United score all three of their goals, revealed that Mourinho’s halftime message had resonated inside the locker room, that “we didn’t want to be the clowns standing there watching them” lift the PL trophy — quotes from the BBC:
“The manager didn’t have to say much at half time as we knew ourselves as players it was a poor performance. He said that we didn’t want to be the clowns standing there watching them get their title. “City have been fantastic here all season, but we stepped up and won the game.”