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Match-winner Lukaku: I wanted Pogba to take penalty rather than go for hat-trick

19:44 SAST 2019/03/02
Romelu Lukaku Manchester United 2018-19
The Belgian scored two goals to lead the Red Devils to a vital win over Southampton on Saturday, but turned down the chance for a third late on

Romelu Lukaku has said he was happy to let Paul Pogba take a late penalty rather than go for a hat-trick in Saturday's win over Southampton

Lukaku scored a pair of goals as Manchester United earned a hard-fought 3-2 win over Southampton at Old Trafford.

The Red Devils struggled to put away the Saints, with the visitors taking a first-half lead through a long-range Yan Valery strike. 

Andreas Pereira and Lukaku gave United a 2-1 second-half lead before James Ward-Prowse equalised with a stunning free-kick in the 75th minute. 

But there would be one final twist, with Lukaku grabbing his second goal to win the match for the home side in the 88th minute before Pogba's injury-time miss from the spot. 

Following the match, the Belgian admitted United were not at their best but were happy to be taking home the three points nonetheless. 

"We knew we had to win the game today and did it," Lukaku told the BBC. "Not our best game but we have to be happy.

"We created a lot of chances in the opening 10 minutes but won the game.

"I was focused on the win and help my team-mates. The manager gave me another chance today.

"We have to look one game at a time and are working hard on the training ground. We are ready for the challenge."

The Belgian had a chance to seal a hat-trick deep into stoppage time after Marcus Rashford was fouled by Stuart Armstrong in the box. 

But, rather than take the penalty, Lukaku opted to hand the ball to team-mate Pogba, whose spot-kick was down the middle and stopped by a kick save from Angus Gunn. 

Despite the miss, Lukaku had no regrets about giving Pogba the chance to score from the spot rather than try for a hat-trick himself. 

"I am a striker and I wanted Paul Pogba to score the penalty," Lukaku said. 

"He has been on a good run but he has been an important player for us and will bounce back."

Lukaku has now scored back-to-back doubles for United and will look to continue his strong form when United travel to Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 encounter. 

PSG are carrying a 2-0 lead from the first leg at Old Trafford.