Manchester United had a solitary Paul Pogba strike to thank for a crucial away victory over Burnley this evening.
The Red Devils made the trip to Turf Moor a short time ago, for their latest outing in the English top-flight.
United of course headed into proceedings aware that a positive result would see them move clear of Liverpool atop the Premier League table, amid the champions’ continued struggles for consistency.
And, when all was said and done in Lancashire, secure a potentially vital 3 points is precisely what the visitors managed.
A solitary goal eventually proved enough to separate the two sides, following a hard-fought 90 minutes.
On the back of the latest round of officiating and VAR drama late in the first-half, Paul Pogba stepped up to produce the game’s telling moment 20 minutes from time.
Amid a sustained spell of pressure on the part of the visitors, the ball was moved out wide to Marcus Rashford, who’s whipped delivery into the Burnley area was met with typical precision on Pogba’s part.
The Frenchman’s effort, in turn, went on to take a considerable deflection, wrong-footing the diving Nick Pope, before nestling in the home side’s net:
Breakthrough for #MUFC!
Paul Pogba’s deflected strike gives them the lead at Turf Moor…
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) January 12, 2021
Burnley toiled in their subsequent efforts to get back on terms as the final 20 minutes played out, as the Clarets’ lack of cutting edge, coupled with some stout United defending, guided the latter to a 1-0 win, and sole ownership of top spot in the Premier League table.
Manchester United back on top of the @premierleague table ⚪
Last time top after 17+ games:
This time last season:
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) January 12, 2021
Though they eventually came away with the desired result, on the back of proceedings coming to a close at Turf Moor, there are actually not too many members of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad deserving of individual praise.
The likes of Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes largely struggled over the course of the 90 minutes, though defensive pairing Harry Maguire and Eric Bailly, to their credit, stood up tall.
The undoubted standout performer for United tonight, however, without question, was Paul Pogba.
Match-winning strike aside, the former Juventus man ran the show from midfield, particularly in the 2nd-half.
Pogba displayed a full repertoire of touch, vision, aggression, aerial prowess and cutting edge versus the Clarets, in a Man of the Match display.
Man of the Match: @ManUtd‘s Paul Pogba
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) January 12, 2021
Perhaps most crucial of all when it comes to United’s title prospects, though, is the fact that the 27-year-old looks legitimately committed to the cause at present.
It was of course just weeks ago when fresh controversy arose surrounding Pogba’s attitude, after the midfielder’s agent, Mino Raiola, made crystal clear that his client had set his heart on an Old Trafford departure.
The Reds’ most recent run of fixtures, however, have showcased the fact that, when focused in on the matter at hand, Pogba remains one of European football’s elite performers in the middle of the park.
Paul Pogba’s game by numbers vs. Burnley:
100% tackles won
90% pass accuracy
83% aerials won
25 final third passes
8 ball recoveries
4 fouls suffered
2 chances created
Colossal performance. pic.twitter.com/pJnIBbqcxz
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) January 12, 2021
Whether or not Manchester United can prolong their hot recent spell of form to mount a genuine title challenge of course remains to be seen.
One thing, though, is for certain. If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men are indeed to shock the masses en route to taking home their first league title since the Sir Alex Ferguson era, Pogba will be an absolutely key reason why.
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This article was edited by Josh Barker.
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