Manchester United are through to the quarterfinals of the 2018-19 FA Cup, thanks to a superstar performance from Paul Pogba which was more than enough to see the Red Devils waltz past Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Monday.
The game’s opening 20 minutes flew by with very few chances of note, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s side established itself as the aggressors from the outset.
Man United were rewarded for their efforts and broke the deadlock just after the half-hour mark, when Ander Herrera headed home a masterful cross from Pogba. It’s hard to believe this is the same Pogba, watching him run at Marcos Alonso before cutting inside and lofting the ball to the back post with pinpoint accuracy, who wasn’t good enough for Jose Mourinho’s team not so long ago.
It was Pogba who, given all the world’s freedom to maraud forward and join the attack these days, sent Marcus Rashford into acres of space with an aggressive through ball to begin the move for United’s second goal in the 45th minute. Pogba wasn’t done there, though, as he embarked upon a 50-yard, all-out sprint into the penalty area, where Rashford’s cross met his head, and the ball met the back of the net.
Nemanja Matic likely should have been shown a second yellow card and sent off in the 51st minute, after he tripped Eden Hazard to end a potential counter-attack, but referee Kevin Friend let the Serb off with one final warning
Down 2-0 at home, with a place in the quarterfinals quickly slipping away, Maurizio Sarri opted for not a single substitution at halftime. When the changes finally began in the 58th minute, Sarri seemed to follow a predictable, rigid script: Willian for Pedro (58th); Ross Barkley for Mateo Kovacic (71st); Davide Zappacosta for Cesar Azpilicueta (82nd) was, to be fair, less predictable but equally ineffective.
United fans added further insult to the defeat with 15 minutes let to play in the game. Oh, how the world can turn upside down in a couple months’ time.