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English Premier League

Paul Pogba penalty run-up after Alexis Sanchez row sparks social media jokes and memes as Manchester United beat Leicester

Twitter goes into meltdown after French World Cup winner’s comical run-up to spot kick as Jose Mourinho’s side win English Premier League opener

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 August, 2018, 12:31pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 August, 2018, 12:31pm

Paul Pogba’s comical penalty run-up has sent social media into meltdown, after the World Cup winner pulled rank over Alexis Sanchez in Manchester United’s 2-1 win against Leicester at Old Trafford.

Sanchez tried to convince Pogba to hand him the ball when United were awarded a penalty in just the second minute of the new English Premier League season.

But the Frenchman was having none of it after being given the captain’s armband by Jose Mourinho, in an apparent show of faith amid speculation linking him to Barcelona and Juventus.

And after a brief conversation with Sanchez, Pogba stepped up to bury the spot kick – but only after an unusual run-up that became an instant hit on Twitter.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the match, Pogba explained his run-up.

“It’s my style of taking penalties, I’ve always done it,” he said. “I know it’s long, I know it can disturb the goalkeeper but the most important thing is for the ball to go in.

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“If I miss, I know what I can hear after that.”

And there were plenty of jokes and memes flying about on social media soon after the ball hit the back of the net.

Former United captain and Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville admitted Pogba’s strange run-up had him worried.

“I know that Paul Pogba handed one to Alexis Sanchez last season but he wasn’t going to give this one away and when he started – I don’t know what he was doing actually – just moving up towards the ball you thought, ‘Oh no, start running quickly because you’re not going to get the power in it!’,” Neville said.

“But he’s so confident and he started the game brilliantly,” Neville added.

“I was thinking you’ve got to score. I was thinking how do you get the power into it. But he just lifts it over [Leicester goalkeeper] Kasper Schmeichel and when you do that in the upper part of the net keepers never get them.”

Leicester’s Daniel Amartey had handled the ball inside the box after a shot from Sanchez, and the Chilean was clearly upset at not being given the chance to take the spot kick.

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“We don’t really have one [penalty taker],” Pogba said after the match. “Even if the manager puts down the names, it’s about how we feel.

“I decided to take it – I was one of the names – but maybe next time I can leave it to Alexis, it’s not a problem.”

Pogba was surprisingly named as a starter by Jose Mourinho, having only returned to training last week.

“I didn’t have any preseason games, I came back on Monday so it was very hard for the legs,” Pogba said. “We played very well, the performance was OK. We want to go up.

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“We should start the Premier League with a win and we did.

“I won’t be full from a World Cup. I know it’s a great cup, it will stay in my mind, but I want to win all the trophies. I haven’t won the Premier League, I haven’t won the Champions League, I haven’t won the European Championship so there are more to win.”

Luke Shaw put United 2-0 up late in the second-half with his first career goal, before Jamie Vardy ensured a nervy finish by pulling one back for Leicester in added time.

“Pogba was a monster,” said Mourinho. “We thought maximum [he could play] 60 minutes, but he managed 80.

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“Paul was fantastic, his contribution was amazing but the fuel was disappearing. We were in trouble.

“I don’t remember in my career to be in so much in trouble to make my changes because I wanted to make five or six and I could only make three.”

“I am [also] very pleased for Luke,” Mourinho said. “He made one mistake in 90 minutes, he was very good defensively.

Mourinho had aired his grievances over United’s lack of transfer activity on a disastrous preseason tour, and again in the pre-match press conference on Thursday.

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Following the captures of right back Diogo Dalot, Brazilian midfielder Fred and backup goalkeeper Lee Grant earlier in the summer, the club failed to bring in any other signings on transfer deadline day, much to Mourinho’s dismay.

“Preseason was very hard and we needed this fantastic spirit by the players to manage this performance and this result,” Mourinho said.