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Monday 24 June 2019

Pogba's positive for battle at Barca

'We just have to enjoy it, give our best and trust ourselves' says United ace on clash at Nou Camp

SPOT ON: Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba celebrates his second goal from the
penalty spot against West Ham on Saturday. Photo: PA
SPOT ON: Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba celebrates his second goal from the penalty spot against West Ham on Saturday. Photo: PA

Paul Pogba is confident Manchester United can turn around their Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona, despite riding their luck against West Ham.

Two decades on from sealing the treble at the Nou Camp, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will attempt to secure another memorable win at Barca's home this Tuesday.

United suffered a 1-0 first-leg loss to the Spanish league champions but picked themselves up with a victory on Saturday, although United were sloppy and more than a little fortunate to overcome the Hammers.

Pogba's brace from the spot sealed a 2-1 victory at Old Trafford and the World Cup winner is now looking to cause a shock in Catalonia.

"I think it's a really important three points," the midfielder said.

"We know about that. We wanted to do obviously better and score more goals, but we get the result that maybe we deserve.

Beautiful

"Now what we have to think about the next one, the next game, get some rest and get focused on Barcelona.

"That's why we play football, to play against those teams, to play those games. A Champions League quarter-final is just beautiful. We just have to enjoy it, give our best and trust ourselves."

United face an uphill battle at the Nou Camp but Barca certainly looked beatable in the first leg.

Solskjaer's side have also proven their mettle when the chips are down, having made Champions League history in the previous round against Paris St Germain by becoming the first team to progress after a first-leg home loss by two or more goals.

PIVOTAL MOMENT: Manchester United striker Anthony Martial is bundled over in the box by West Ham’s Ryan Fredericks in Saturday’s Premier League clash at Old Trafford. Photo: PA
PIVOTAL MOMENT: Manchester United striker Anthony Martial is bundled over in the box by West Ham’s Ryan Fredericks in Saturday’s Premier League clash at Old Trafford. Photo: PA

"The game is not done, it's not closed," Pogba said.

"I know it's Barcelona, we're playing in their home, but it's never closed. It's still 90 minutes.

"The first half is gone, now it's the second half."

Pogba missed that remarkable return leg at the Parc des Princes through suspension and will be looking to make his mark after a welcome return to form on Saturday.

One of few players to emerge from the West Ham match with any credit, the 26-year-old took his goal tally for the season to 16 with a pair of spot-kicks that saw him move away from his favoured stuttered run-up.

"Yeah, I can still go back to the old one!" Pogba said with a laugh.

"I just changed it because I think the keepers, they know how I shoot penalties and I just changed it to make a little difference.

"The most important thing is that the ball goes in and the victory, the three points."

Pogba struck the killer blow just moments after David De Gea produced his latest moment of magic. Guilty of giving away possession in the build-up to Felipe Anderson's goal, the United goalkeeper more than made amends with an outstanding stop to claw away Michail Antonio's header.

"David is David," Pogba said.

"We know about this. This is not something incredible. We're used to it. And hopefully we're going to keep being used to saves like that. I told him 'this is normal for you, so I don't congratulate you, I just don't say anything, it's normal'. He's a top-class goalkeeper and this save showed it again. We're really lucky that we have him."

Luck certainly was not on West Ham's side on Saturday evening, with Anderson seeing a goal wrongly ruled out for offside early in a match that the visitors dominated for large patches.

Versatile Arthur Masuaku said: "We played really well, everyone is frustrated about this game and I don't even know how we lost this game. We should have won." Meanwhile, LaLiga leaders Barcelona were held to a goalless draw at bottom club Huesca, where manager Ernesto Valverde made sweeping changes.

Lionel Messi was rested for the trip to the Estadio El Alcoraz, despite being given the all-clear after scans following a collision with United's Chris Smalling during the Champions League match at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

With the second leg against the Reds looming, defender Jean-Clair Todibo and 20-year-old Senegal international Moussa Wague were handed first-team debuts, with midfielder Riqui Puig and Jeison Murillo also coming in for starts.

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