Paul Pogba will continue to play with a smile on his face as long as Manchester United keep winning, he explained after another decisive Premier League strike.
United reclaimed top spot with a 2-1 victory at Fulham on Wednesday, moving back ahead of Leicester City and Manchester City after their wins over Chelsea and Aston Villa respectively.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men triumphed having conceded first away from home for the seventh time in seven attempts this term with Pogba striking the winner after Edinson Cavani had cancelled out Ademola Lookman’s early opener.
Pogba’s effort was a fine left-footed blast from outside the area, his first league effort with his weaker foot from this range since January 2015 when he was still at Juventus.
It was a goal the midfielder revelled in, as he told BT Sport: “I hit it well. I didn’t expect the left foot would be like this, but we try.
“If you don’t shoot, you don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m really glad that the ball went in. It was a beautiful goal and a beautiful victory – that’s the most important.”
That strike marked the second time this month Pogba has fired United to victory, also netting the only goal at Burnley.
2015 – Paul Pogba has scored a league goal from outside the penalty area with his left foot for the first time since January 2015 for Juventus vs Chievo in Serie A. Corker. pic.twitter.com/n3oakH2j0Q
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 20, 2021
Yet he has also missed big chances – opportunities Opta would expect him to score – against Aston Villa and Liverpool since the start of 2021, with a wasteful attempt at Anfield on Sunday costing United two points.
Explaining his emotions after responding with a big goal, Pogba said: “It’s not like I apologised, but I was really mad; I was really mad that I was close to the goal and maybe I should have done better.
“Today it went in so I’m really happy for that. The most important is that we had the win today, because it was a hard one, a very mature one.
“We had to defend and we knew it would be like this. We knew it and we’ve done it the hard way, the beautiful way. It’s beautiful to win like that.”
The broadcaster suggested Pogba, maligned for much of his United career, looked to be enjoying himself on the pitch in an all-action display that included more passes (80) and more passes in the opposition half (56) than any other player while leading the Red Devils in tackles (four), interceptions (three) and possession gains (nine).
“I love winning,” he replied. “It’s all about winning. I will always be happy when I win and I will always be happy when I’m on the pitch.
“Today we won, so I’m happy; the day we lose, I will be angry again. This is me.”
And United cannot afford any slip-ups, with City, who have played a game fewer, and Leicester just two points back.
“We just know that we have to get our result. We knew we had to win and that’s it,” Pogba said.
“It’s the Premier League, so you know it’s always hard. It will never be easy. These are big teams as well, very close on points, so we have to do us. That’s it.”