Pogba leads resurgent Man United to 4-1 win over Bournemouth
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Paul Pogba is feeling so good at Manchester United these days that he’s practicing his goal celebrations during the pre-game warmup.
With good reason, too, as the French World Cup winner is once again finding plenty of reasons to celebrate.
Pogba scored another two goals and added an assist as United continued its resurgence under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a free-flowing 4-1 win over Bournemouth in the Premier League on Sunday.
Pogba, who had been relegated to the bench during the final weeks of Jose Mourinho’s reign after falling out with the Portuguese manager, put United 2-0 up after 33 minutes before Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku added a goal apiece at Old Trafford.
“To finish the year like that is beautiful,” Pogba said. “It’s just a reaction of all the players, everybody enjoying themselves. That’s what we need, a team needs to enjoy playing football.”
The midfielder showed just how much he’s enjoying himself by celebrating his first goal with a playful dance, shimmying his hips with arms folded across his stomach — a move that TV cameras revealed he had been practicing on the pitch before kickoff.
Pogba, though, insisted it wasn’t a rehearsed routine.
“No, no, no, it’s just coming,” he said. “Everybody knows I love to dance. That’s how I celebrate my goals.”
After Rashford made it 3-0, Nathan Ake gave Bournemouth some hope by pulling a goal back with a header just before halftime, but United rarely looked troubled after the break and Lukaku added the fourth from a suspected offside position in the 72nd.
United finished the game with 10 men after Eric Bailly was sent off in the 79th for a late scissor tackle on Ryan Fraser but the hosts still eased to a third straight victory under Solskjaer, who took over from the fired Mourinho earlier this month. They have scored 12 goals in that stretch — having averaged less than two per game under Mourinho — with Pogba netting two for the second game in a row. The attacking football that was the club’s hallmark under Alex Ferguson is definitely back at Old Trafford and Pogba, the club’s record signing, looks completely rejuvenated under the caretaker manager.
“Obviously it’s different,” Pogba said. “It’s just a different style of play, we are more offensive I would say, so we create more chances, and a bit higher as well. … That’s how we want to play, we want to attack, the manager wants to attack, and that’s what we do on the pitch.”
The midfielder slid in to tap home a low cross from Marcus Rashford in the fifth minute after the England forward showed great footwork to go past a defender and break inside from the right flank. He doubled the lead with a header, beating goalkeeper Asmir Begovic to a cross from Ander Herrera by the near post.
Rashford was then rewarded for his own excellent attacking display when he was on hand to turn in another cross by Anthony Martial, but Bournemouth was able to respond immediately to pull a goal back before the break. David Brooks floated a ball into the United box and Ake jumped highest to bury a header past David de Gea.
Bournemouth had a penalty appeal waved away in the 70th minute when Bailly put his foot up near the face of Charlie Daniels, and United sealed the game minutes later. Lukaku, who had just come on for Rashford, met a lofted pass from Pogba and sent a low finish past Begovic.
Pogba then came inches away from completing a first hat trick at United when Begovic tipped his low strike against the post in the 77th.
The only negative for United was an apparent injury to Rashford and Bailly’s rash tackle, which will earn the centre-back an automatic three-match ban.
The win puts United just three points behind fifth-place Arsenal, but they remain eight points outside the Champions League places.