Manchester United secured a vital three points at Selhurst Park on Wednesday night after beating Crystal Palace 2-1, in controversial circumstances some might add.
Pogba broke the deadlock just before half-time, after scoring from a knockdown from Ibrahimovic, which appeared to come off his arm, before James McArthur equalised for Palace in the second half. Zlatan popped up with the winner two minutes from time. The summer signings seemed pleased that the three points were secured, albeit late on. The official Manchester United website reports:
“We knew it was going to be difficult at this stadium. Tonight we weren’t really happy with the performance of the team but, you know, sometimes you don’t play well and you win.“
Ibrahimovic admitted the knockdown for Pogba’s goal “could have hit my arm”. The Swede said;
“I tried to push the ball forward to Paul because I saw he was free. I think it might have touched my hand a little bit and then maybe my stomach but I need to see the images to be sure.”
The game had other controversial moments such as Marcos Rojo committing a dangerous tackle on United old boy Wilfred Zaha, that could have resulted in a red card. United also had a legitimate goal wrongly ruled out for offside and should have had a penalty after Joe Ledley’s handball in the box.
Nevertheless, United saw the game out and Paul Pogba was awarded man-of-the-match by BT Sport, and deservedly so in my opinion. The Frenchman not only scored and assisted a goal tonight but playing in that midfield three of himself, Herrera and Carrick, really allows him to work his magic. He ran the game for me and was always looking to make things happen. No doubt he will still receive criticism whenever he plays well, but United fans will be happy with his performance last night. Pogba had a good passing completion rate last night, completing 82% of his attempted passes.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic now has eight goals in last eight games for United, and now has 14 goals in all competitions, a truly remarkable return for someone that many people wrote off at the start of the season. Many forget as well, that Ibra was brought in during the summer on a free transfer, and in my opinion, if he manages to get 20 goals this season, then that is a sound investment from United. Not many strikers at 35 could come to the league which many perceive to be the hardest league in the world and score nearly 15 goals by Christmas.
It shows the motivation that Ibrahimovic has, with Jose Mourinho warning the Swede that a move to England would be ‘no holiday’. His eagerness to prove people wrong is certainly reaping the rewards at the moment, and Ibrahimovic is slowly starting to become United’s main goal threat. United have lacked a truly clinical out-and-out striker since the days of Ruud van Nistelrooy and to an extent Robin van Persie. A striker who can be fairly quiet for the majority of the game but still pop up with a winner, or a crucial goal regardless. Zlatan has done this on a few occasions now and seems to be firing on all cylinders at the moment. Another goal and a win on Saturday please, Zlatan.