As far as weekends go, it was an exceptional one for Manchester United and fans around the world. Your Monday Briefing is here to round up the essential news, views and events...
The only place to start is Saturday’s amazing 3-2 derby win at City, where the Reds were two goals down at half-time after strikes from Vincent Kompany and Ilkay Gundogan. But then Paul Pogba struck twice in as many minutes to bring the scores level before Chris Smalling volleyed in a winner, which secured an unbelievable comeback and prevented the Blues from winning the Premier League title. Our success at the Etihad Stadium has strengthened the hold on second place for 2017/18, which has been the goal for some time, following third-placed Liverpool’s drab stalemate at Everton.
Goals: City 2 United 3Video
In his press conference, Jose Mourinho gave this insight into his instructions.
“I told Matic, Herrera and Pogba that they could not improve a lot from what they did in the first half because they had confidence to play and to move the ball and give passes,”he said.
“I was asking more from my central defenders, especially to play with the ball as in the first half they were really shaky with it at their feet and there were bad mistakes. I needed more from my wingers, I wanted them to come inside and give more solutions to our midfielders. So we improved in the second half with that.”
Jose: What I told the players at half-timeVideo
“I think there were some honest words said at half-time,”admitted Smalling afterwards.
“We were feeling sorry for ourselves but we needed to make sure we played with pride. We needed to show more character and stand up tall and give the fans something back. We didn't want to be the clowns watching City win that trophy and I think you saw us really stand up in that second half.”
Paul was a subject of the pre-match conversation following comments made by Pep Guardiola, yet the Frenchman remained focused and produced a sensational performance, particularly in the second half when he became the first United player to score two goals against City in a single game since Wayne Rooney in December 2012. He was crowned our Man of the Match with 79 per cent of votes and beamed on MUTV.
“It obviously feels great to score two goals but it's an even better feeling to win against Manchester City and not let them win today against us in their own stadium,”he said.
Pogba: That win was for the fansVideo
RIO IMPRESSED BY PAUL’S PERFORMANCE
“Pogba was the talk before the game and he went on to make sure he was the talk after it for the reasons he so desperately wants them to be,” posted Ferdinand on Instagram.
“Knowing Paul, he will want to be talked about as a great player but his extravagant hairstyles and dance moves have too often overshadowed his performances. Flashy hair and being seen to enjoy every bit of life is just the way Paul Pogba is and that's his choice so it must be respected. All he has to do is make sure he keeps producing performances and goals like we saw vs City and that will be the conversation.”
ALEXIS WAS ALSO HIGHLY INFLUENTIAL
Pogba was the star, but we must not overlook the contribution of our January signing after he played a pivotal role in all three goals. His cross to Herrera inspired the first for Paul and another inch-perfect pass led to the Frenchman’s second, before an in-swinging free-kick teed up Smalling’s winner. His work rate was superb and, undoubtedly, this was his most impressive United display.
2 - Alexis Sanchez has provided two assists in a single Premier League game for just the second time in his career (also v Newcastle in Dec 2014). Timely. pic.twitter.com/tKYV99cKtK— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 7, 2018
A TRIBUTE TO RAY WILKINS
Both teams wore black armbands in tribute to the late United and England player, while a moment of applause was also impeccably upheld by fans before kick-off. It was a sobering moment and many of Ray’s former team-mates, including Bryan Robson, celebrated his life in a video that aired on MUTV...
UNDER-23S SHOWED FIGHT
United needed to avoid defeat against Sunderland to stave off relegation from Premier League 2 and racked up a 4-0 triumph at Old Trafford to raise hopes of climbing the table at this late stage of the campaign. In front of an appreciative crowd, Tahith Chong scored the first and set up the second, for Zak Dearnley, to register a commanding half-time lead. Then two goals in quick succession, by Indy Boonen and skipper Joe Riley, doubled that advantage in the hosts' biggest win of the season.
U23s: HT - #MUFC 2 Sunderland 0. It's a must-win game for United, and we lead at the interval, courtesy of Tahith Chong's slick finish after 24 minutes, and Zak Dearnley's close-range effort moments ago. pic.twitter.com/2cubX12kAG— Manchester United (@ManUtd) April 6, 2018
UNDER-18S CLOSER TO THE TITLE
United's youngsters are on the brink of claiming the Under-18 Premier League North title after winning 3-2 at Middlesbrough. The away victory means that only local rivals Manchester City can now match United's current table-topping tally of 45 points. The Blues, who must beat the Reds as well as winning all of their games in hand, hammered Everton 6-1 at home on Saturday.
DISAPPOINTMENT FOR HENDERSON
Dean Henderson was left disappointed on Sunday, when he and loan club Shrewsbury Town were beaten 1-0 by Lincoln in the Football League Trophy final at Wembley. Meanwhile, Sam Johnstone made his 41st appearance for Aston Villa as they lost 3-1 at Norwich City and James Wilson was an 89th-minute substitute in Sheffield United's 3-2 defeat at Barnsley. Matty Willock played 20 minutes for St Johnstone in their 0-0 draw with Motherwell against ex-Academy lad Liam Grimshaw, while Andreas Pereira made his 25th Valencia appearance in a 1-0 La Liga win over Espanyol.