Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has explained his decision to substitute Paul Pogba at half-time during Manchester United’s win over Granada.
United booked their place in the semi-finals of the Europa League after beating Granada 2-0 on Thursday night, thanks to an Edinson Cavani effort and a Jesus Vallejo own goal.
Pogba set up Cavani’s opener at Old Trafford, but he was replaced by Donny van de Beek at the interval, which Solskjaer admits was a decision borne out of fear that the midfielder might pick up a red card.
What’s been said?
The United boss said to BT Sport after the game: “Sometimes, Paul wants to win so much… he went into a couple of tackles after his yellow card but I thought I don’t want to risk that [him being sent off] even though he played so well.
“We missed three today [through suspension]. The season has been hard enough as it is.”
What did Pogba say?
Pogba had no ill-feeling towards his manager after being taken out of the firing line, with it his belief that the Granada players identified him as a target after he received a yellow card.
“Some tackles, a yellow card. I had to come off obviously.” the Frenchman told BT Sport. “The yellow card was unfortunate. It wasn’t a yellow card for me but you have to accept it. We won the game, that’s the most important thing.
“I know the foul just after it, I saw all the players trying to get me out. [The manager thought] It’s better I come off before red card.”
Pogba added on his assist for Cavani’s goal: “I made the run and I knew he was behind me. The way the ball went to him was perfect. A beautiful goal.”
United make light work of Granada
The Red Devils won the first leg of the tie 2-0 in Spain last week, and didn’t take long to increase their aggregate advantage on home soil.
Pogba neatly flicked a header onto Cavani in the box with just six minutes on the clock at Old Trafford, and the Uruguayan produced a fierce first-time effort that flew past the Granada goalkeeper and into the bottom corner.
Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood squandered good chances thereafter, but the hosts finally got their second goal when Vallejo turned a beautifully flighted cross from Alex Telles into his own net in stoppage time.
Solskjaer added on his side’s latest European performance: “Granada do give you a game. It’s a physical game, they throw people forward. You have to defend in these kinds of games.
“2-0, clean sheet, some good individual performances. We’re full of confidence going into Sunday [against Burnley].”
Who will United play in the last four?
Solskjaer’s men set up a semi-final showdown against Roma after seeing off Granada, as the Italian giants came through their last eight encounter with Ajax 3-2 on aggregate.
“We are looking forward to it. We’re in the semis. It feels like a proper European tie because Roma is a club with lots of history,” the Norwegian tactician said of United’s next opponents. “We’ve done well against Italian sides before.
“We’re going into it hoping to get to the final. If we can finish the season with a trophy that’d be great.”