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08 Abril 2018, 08:40 | Gervasio Siguenza
And his brace to set up United's 3-2 comeback win in the Manchester derby yesterday were probably the most crucial of the lot.
City looked set to seal the Premier League title at the Etihad after first-half goals from Vincent Kompany and Ilkay Gundogan, but £89m signing Pogba proved the catalyst for a second-half comeback as he scored twice in two minutes before Chris Smalling snatched a victor in a stunning 3-2 win.
Paul Pogba of Manchester United scores his side's first goal past Ederson of Manchester City during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Etihad Stadium on April 7, 2018 in Manchester, England. "We have a good chance to finish second now, we needed points to make sure we could do that and we managed to get them in the most hard place, the stadium where no one else in the league has managed to win this season".
The second leg is on the Eithad on Tuesday.
Chris Smalling grabbed the victor in the 69th minute to prevent City from lifting the title at their own backyard but it only seems a matter of when, thanks to their 13-point lead at the top of the table. There wasn't a better time to play City - in the middle of two draining and all-encompassing Champions League games. In the end, however, the planned title party at the Etihad was replaced by the sight of United players celebrating in front of their supporters.
City were left justifiably aggrieved after Ashley Young flew in on Sergio Aguero in the penalty area, but no spot-kick was given. Vincent Kompany, the oft-injured City talisman in defense, scored the opener in the 25th minute.
Manchester United stepped on the pitch in the second half with a different game plan and Paul Pogba proved the chief orchestrator of the plan.
Guardiola summoned Aguero and De Bruyne in the hope of at least avoiding a second league defeat in the campaign, and the former was denied a 200th goal for the club when De Gea acrobatically tipped over a close-range header. "They are going to win, they deserve the title". Pogba engineered a break and was in the box to collect a floated Sanchez cross and head home his second. He produced two excellent finishes to draw United level, and generally ran the midfield.
"We played good in both halves, you must look at what happened in the game and not make a judgment based on the result". "I want to congratulate City for the title because they are going to win and deservedly".
And then came a late charge that nearly spared City's pain with De Gea making an astonishing save to deny Aguero and then Sterling touching onto the post from a couple of yards and seeing the rebound fall to the Spanish keeper to clear. To see how tough it is when the people say since November "it is done".
Sanchez was having a wonderful second half by this point.
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