Paul Pogba admitted he was lucky to score for Manchester United against Everton after seeing his 28-step penalty saved by Jordan Pickford and hinted that he could change his technique for spot-kicks in future.
United were awarded a penalty in the 26th minute at Old Trafford when Idrissa Gueye was judged to have brought down Anthony Martial and Pogba stepped up to take it, deploying the controversial long, slow jog up to the ball that has proved very divisive.
Pickford guessed the right way and parried away Pogba’s eventual shot, but the ball bounced back to the France international to tap in the rebound and give United the lead. Anthony Martial’s second-half strike ensured that not even a late consolation from Gylfi Sigurdsson could deny Jose Mourinho’s men a vital win.
“I always try to destabilise the goalkeeper,” Pogba told Sky Sports after the match. “I always shoot like this and that's how I know how to take penalties.
“I may practise to change it because maybe the goalkeepers are starting to know my steps, but the most important thing is when the ball goes in.
“Today, I was lucky, but the most important thing is that the ball went in and I scored a goal. It was good for us and it was good for me. Then after, we carried on and had other chances. But the most important thing was the win today.”
Mourinho credited Pogba for wanting to take the high-pressure kick, but agreed that the France international may be best served by altering his run-up.
“I like the player that says ‘I want to take it’,” Mourinho said. “But Paul, can he improve? I think he can. The goalkeepers know his running up style, they don’t move and they are waiting for his decision, so he has to learn from that. But, for me, the most important thing is he wants to go again.
“Maybe he has to change his approach, but I don't want him to change his mental approach. The keeper is also a good penalty saver, so let’s give credit to him. He showed that in the World Cup.”
Pogba’s penalty technique did not prove popular with former United defender Gary Neville, who made his feelings clear during Sky Sports’ analysis of the game.
“It's not right, it doesn't feel right,” Neville insisted. “It's not how you would ever kick a ball in normal play – it goes against everything you're taught.
“It feels for me like it's a little bit for show, for theatre. Cristiano Ronaldo used to do it at Old Trafford but it's not working for Paul Pogba.”
Former Liverpool captain Graeme Souness added: “I don't like to see this. I personally think it's a bit ‘look at me, look at me’. I just don't get this penalty.
“I think he's moved the ball quickly today, he's been uncomplicated, but he's been really good. If he can do that week in, week out, he'd be a properly top player.”
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