Nowhere to hide for Pogba after penalty gaffe

Nowhere to hide for Pogba after penalty gaffe

Wolves 1 - 1 Man United

Paul Pogba squandered the chance to send Manchester United to the top of the fledgling table as he missed yet another Premier League penalty.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side dominated for the first half against Wolves and led through Anthony Martial’s 50th goal for the club but they were pegged back by an early goal of the season contender by Ruben Neves 10 minutes after the restart.

But, when Pogba went down inside the area midway through the second half, he decided to take matters into his own hands from the spot.

For the fourth time in 12 months, however, he failed to score. No other player has missed more penalties in the same period.

“The two of them [Pogba and Rashford] are designated penalty takers,” Solskjaer said.

“It’s up to them in that moment. Sometimes players feel that they’re confident enough to score.

"Paul has scored so many for us.”

Solskjaer made one change to the side who beat Chelsea 4-0 on the opening weekend with summer signing Daniel James, who scored within seven minutes of emerging from the bench that day, rewarded with his full debut for the club.

The United boss had earlier spoken of James’ extreme pace providing his side with ‘X-Factor’ and the £15m (€16.4m) arrival from Swansea was unleashed down the right hand side at Molineux meaning Jesse Lingard was shifted into the middle.

It was little surprise, meanwhile, that Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santos rang the changes following his side’s 4-0 victory over Armenian minnows Pyunik here on Thursday.

Both Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota, who have scored 24 goals in their last 24 games between them, were restored to the side and started up front together in a top two.

United failed to beat Wolves in their three attempts last season with Santos’ side winning 2-1 twice at Molineux and taking a point from a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford.

In fact this famous old ground in the Blackcountry holds only bad memories for Solskjaer, twice beaten with United and once during his tenure at Cardiff back in 2014.

His side started with verve and purpose this time but had to wait until the 18th minute for their first sight of goal when a teasing cross from Marcus Rashford nearly provided Martial with a tap-in.

Eight minutes later the pair combined for the opener and it was no tap-in.

Rashford rolled a through-ball into the Frenchman’s path and Martial rifled his finish into the roof of the net for his 50th goal for the club four years after arriving from Monaco.

Since he opened his account from the bench on his debut back September 2015, nobody has scored more United goals than Martial but he has often been viewed as a peripheral figure.

Regularly linked with moves away, particularly during Jose Mourinho’s time in charge, he seems to have finally found his feet.

And he was nearly gifted a second with the final kick of the reasonably comfortable half when he raced onto an under-hit backpass by Ryan Bennett.

Martial, however, never really got it under control which allowed Rui Patricio to gather.

Nowhere to hide for Pogba after penalty gaffe

After a very solid opening 45 minutes, right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka, another summer signing, started the second half on the front foot.

Within five minutes of the restart, he clipped an inviting cross in for Lingard, who could only totally miscue a half volley.

The defender then nearly sent Lingard clear with a through-ball which only rolled inches beyond him. But then it was all Wolves.

First Raul Jimenez glanced Joao Moutinho’s free-kick onto the inside of the post before Ruben Neves used the woodwork to his advantage with yet another incredible strike.

The long-shot specialist received a clever pull back from Moutinho on the edge of the box, shifted the ball onto his right foot and then steered an arcing shot in off the underside of David De Gea’s crossbar.

Molineux erupted but the atmosphere was quickly dampened by a lengthy VAR review, which checked whether or not Moutinho had strayed offside in the build-up.

He hadn’t and the goal stood. Having had things their own way for the whole first half, United were suddenly on the back foot and worryingly short of ideas.

They were handed a golden opportunity to restore their lead in the 67th minute when Pogba went down under contact from Conor Coady.

Rashford had fired home from the spot against Chelsea last Sunday but, after a quick discussion with the 21-year-old striker on the edge of the area, it was Pogba himself who took hold of the ball this time only to have his powerful spot-kick saved by Patricio.

That effort proved to be the last meaningful sight on goal for either side, meaning Wolves’ unbeaten run at home extends to 14 games while United will rue their inability to turn their first-half dominance into a second successive win this season.

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