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Pogba helps Manchester United draw at Tottenham

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LONDON            –          Paul Pogba made an immediate impact on his return from surgery, earning a penalty converted by Bruno Fernandes that recovered for Manchester United a 1-1 draw at Tottenham in the English Premier League.

While the teams have endured three months without games in the pandemic, Pogba hasn’t played since December. And he entered only in the 63rd minute at an empty Tottenham stadium with the hosts leading from Steven Bergwijn’s 27th-minute strike-through goalkeeper David de Gea’s hands. “David is disappointed with it but the ball was moving,” United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said.

Pogba, whose United future has been mired in uncertainty, helped to inject some attacking dynamism that United had been missing. After Pogba was bundled off the ball by Eric Dier, Fernandes netted his third penalty since joining United in January. “Paul Pogba showed some real quality out there,” Solskjaer said. “ Pogba contributed really, really much for us to get a point and maybe could have helped us to get the three points. He did everything a midfielder should do. He tackled, he won the ball. He played passes and he showed some skills, so fantastic to have him back.”

United were denied a second penalty when VAR overturned the decision to penalize Dier for another foul — this time on Fernandes. “We know Manchester United has an incredible record this season of penalties given, so we knew everything in the box was dangerous for us,” said Mourinho.

“I think in the first penalty, the referee made this decision which I admit is difficult for referees, but then the VAR is a different story. “Referees can make mistakes but I don’t think VAR should make mistakes, then the second penalty is incredible for me,” added Mourinho.

United are three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea having played an extra game. But fifth place will clinch a Champions League spot if second-placed Manchester City’s two-year ban from Europe is upheld next month for breaking financial rules. Tottenham remained four points behind United. The start of the game saw players immediately take a knee as part of the Black Lives Matter protests.

Meanwhile, Watford’s Craig Dawson grabbed a stoppage-time equaliser with an overhead kick to earn his side a 1-1 draw with Leicester City and a vital point in their battle for Premier League survival.

England full back Ben Chilwell had put third-placed Leicester ahead in the 90th minute with a thunderous shot, before Dawson’s acrobatic finish lifted Watford provisionally a point clear of the relegation zone. “It came off the defender’s toe and fell to Craig Dawson,” Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers said. “They have so many bodies in the box and it is one of those things. Just unfortunate.”

Watford midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure created the best chance of the opening half, firing straight at Kasper Schmeichel after a defensive error by Leicester’s Wilfred Ndidi. Soon after halftime Watford’s Etienne Capoue produced a defence-splitting pass to send Ismaila Sarr clean through on goal but Schmeichel made an another excellent block from close range with an outstretched hand.

Having failed to record a single effort on target in the first half, Leicester created the majority of chances in the closing stages and went close when Marc Albrighton’s effort hit the post. Leicester thought they had secured their first league win at Vicarage Road since 2016 with Chilwell’s strike, but defender Dawson had other ideas. Watford moved to 16th place in the table with 28 points, while Leicester remained third and six points clear of fourth-placed Chelsea.

 

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