Paul Pogba returned from injury with a bang as the super sub fired Manchester United to victory at AC Milan and a place in the Europa League quarter-finals.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) March 19, 2021
Pogba missed the first leg during a 40-day absence with a thigh injury and made a timely return at San Siro. And four minutes after being introduced in place of Marcus Rashford, the Frenchman made a telling impact firing the ball into the net from a close range in the 48th minute.
“Obviously, we’re very happy we’re through. I’ll be honest, and the lads and staff would agree, we weren’t good at all especially first half we were awful,” United defender Luke Shaw said. “Second half it always helps to have a world class player like Paul to make a difference and he did that. But we know we need to be better than tonight.”
Milan grew stronger as the half wore on and Henderson did well to push away an Alexis Saelemaekers shot from the edge of the area and then Rade Krunic fired wide just before the break. It remained honours even on the night at half-time, but with the hosts still holding that away-goal advantage.
Pogba almost added a second when he headed just over late on, but one goal was enough for United.
“You give yourself a chance to win a game of football when you keep a clean sheet. Dean Henderson made a fantastic save towards the end and I’m very pleased with everyone’s defending,” Solskjaer added. “We know the back six, with the likes of Scott McTominay and Fred, always give everything.
“There are many good teams left but you’ve got to be spot on. It’s a cup competition and anything can happen. But we are through and we feel confident.”
“We played well in both legs, but football is like that — if you don’t score, you don’t win,” Ibrahimovic said.
“If you don’t take your chances, there will be moments when you will come under pressure in the game. In one of these moments, they managed to score. When you make mistakes, you pay for them.”
AC Milan: G. Donnarumma (c), Kalulu (Dalot 65), Tomori, Kjaer, Theo Hernandez, Krunic (Brahim Diaz 72), Kessie, Meite, Castillejo (Ibrahimovic 65), Hakan Calhanoglu, Saelemaekers.
Subs: Tatarusanu, A. Donnarumma, Bennacer, Tonali, Tonin, Gabbia.
Manchester United: Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire (c), Shaw; McTominay, Fred; James, Fernandes, Rashford (Pogba 46); Greenwood.
Subs: De Gea, Grant, Telles, Tuanzebe, Williams, Amad, Matic, van de Beek.
Goal: Pogba 48