Paul Pogba in action against Leeds United on his Manchester United debut in September 2011

When Pogba made his debut - at Elland Road

Thursday 22 April 2021 16:05

When Manchester United travel to Elland Road this weekend, it will be the first time in nearly a decade we’ve played away against historic rivals Leeds United.

For many of our younger supporters, Sunday’s Premier League contest could be the first time they can ever remember the Reds playing at the West Yorkshire club's famous old ground.

It will also be a new experience for the vast majority of the current players, but one member of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad has worn the red jersey at Elland Road once before: Paul Pogba.

In fact, the Academy graduate actually made his United debut away to Leeds when we last played there, in a 2011 League Cup third-round encounter.
Watch all the goals from Pogba's first game for the Reds.
Given the rarity of such a meeting in those days, the game was billed as an epic encounter between a talented and a robust Championship side and the reigning Premier League kings of England.

Yet, when the action got under way, Sir Alex Ferguson’s men made light work of the hosts. Admittedly, the game could have been very different had Dimitar Berbatov not cleared an early Leeds chance off his own goal line, but once the Reds got into our groove it was an enjoyable occasion under the floodlights.

Michael Owen opened the scoring for United after 15 minutes when his scuffed shot squirmed past a helpless Andy Lonergan, and soon after, the Leeds keeper was once again left stranded as the former England striker blazed in a rare goal from outside the box.

After all the build-up, the tie was more or less wrapped up by half-time. It was Ryan Giggs who netted our third before the interval, although his outside-of-the-boot effort did take a significant deflection en route to goal. The Welshman cupped his ear in celebration, which was perhaps an indication of the sort of reception our legendary winger had received from the home supporters!

With the Reds in cruise control, Sir Alex decided to hand Pogba his first-team bow at the beginning of the second half. Coming on as a substitute for Giggs, the then 18-year-old Frenchman looked more than comfortable playing alongside Ji-sung Park in the centre of the field.

Paul was actually one of three debutants that night, with Sir Alex also handing Zeki Fryers and Larnell Cole some valuable minutes in the first team.

The second period did prove to be a bit of a non-event in terms of goalmouth action, although the unusual pairing of Berbatov and Michael Carrick at centre-back by the end of the night did raise a few chuckles among our away supporters.

The game ultimately finished 3-0 and the Reds moved on to face Aldershot Town in the fourth round. As for what happened in the future for Pogba... well, let's just say he'll return to Elland Road this weekend - for what would be his 200th senior United game - as a World Cup winner and one of the most recognisable players on the planet.