MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - MANCHESTER UNITED 4 NEWCASTLE UNITED 1
Paul Pogba scored one and created another on his return from a two month injury layoff to lead Manchester United to a 4-1 win over Newcastle United at Old Trafford on Saturday as they maintained their 100 percent home record.
With Zlatan Ibrahimovic also making his return in a cameo substitute appearance and Argentine defender Marcos Rojo fit again and sat on the bench, United are close to full strength again and look all the better for it.
“We have had to go through difficult matches without important players, let us see if we can go through the Christmas period with all the players available at our disposal. The more players we have, the better for me,” said United manager Jose Mourinho.
United had to come from behind though to secure the three points, which keep them eight behind leaders Manchester City, after Dwight Gayle had fired Rafa Benitez’s side ahead in the 14th minute.
It could easily have been 2-0 to the Magpies when the influential Jonjo Shelvey played a clever ball to Jacob Murphy, who fired just wide.
France international Pogba’s cleverness on the ball created the equaliser in the 37th minute as he earned some space for himself before chipping a cross to compatriot Anthony Martial, who headed home at the back post.
United went ahead just before the break when Chris Smalling rose well at the back post to head in a superb deep cross from Ashley Young.
Pogba, who had looked confident from the outset, made it 3-1 in the 54th minute with a tap-in after Marcus Rashford headed down a Romelu Lukaku cross.
Lukaku, who had not scored in his last seven games in all competitions, grabbed his 12th of the season 20 minutes from the end, blasting home in front of the Stretford End, prompting the withdrawal of Pogba.
Mourinho later brought on Ibrahimovic for his first appearance since suffering a knee ligament injury in April and after receiving an impressive welcome from the United fans he produced a fine volley which was well saved by Newcastle keeper Rob Elliot.
“I am pleased for the three points, the quality of our performance after Newcastle’s goal, that mentality to react without panic and in a positive way, and obviously the return of injured players is always nice, especially in Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s case,” said Mourinho.
“His was such a dramatic injury. To see him back is a great emotion.”
United are now unbeaten in 38 games at home in all competitions.
Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Rex Gowar