Mourinho takes Pogba's goal off him but hails 'box-to-box' display rarely seen at Man Utd

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The Red Devils boss believes the midfielder's winner for France against Australia was actually an own goal, but concedes that he played well

Jose Mourinho believes Paul Pogba’s winner for France against Australia was actually an own goal, but concedes that the Manchester United put in a positive “box-to-box” performance.

Those at Old Trafford have not been treated to too many displays from an £89 million asset that could fall into that category since he returned to England in 2016.

Pogba was, however, to make a telling contribution for his country in their opening fixture at World Cup 2018, with the 25-year-old edging them to a 2-1 win with an 80th-minute effort.

Mourinho feels a strike which cannoned down off the crossbar and required goal-line technology to confirm it was valid should have been credited to unfortunate Socceroos defender Aziz Behich.

The Red Devils boss is prepared to acknowledge, though, that a man he is still trying to get the best out of at club level impressed when given the freedom to get forward from midfield.

Mourinho told Russia Today: "For me, it's not about the goal. I think it's an own goal, but it's the action. It's the determination of making it happen.

"The majority of French players were too comfortable or not wanting to risk too much, or not confident enough to make things happen. [Kylian] Mbappe didn't have a great game, nor Ousmane Dembele or Antoine Griezmann.

"The midfield were very positional, Paul didn't interfere a lot in the game, but then - this action is the action of a No 8.

Paul Pogba France Australia World Cup 2018

"That's what people used to call the box-to-box midfielders. And in this case, that was the action of an attacking part of box-to-box.

"It's a pity it wasn't a clean shot to make it a brilliant goal, but it got them the three points."

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While Pogba got France over the line against Australia, Les Bleus were also grateful to VAR interference in a narrow victory.

Antoine Griezmann was awarded a penalty after the on-field officials had waved away his protests following a challenge by Josh Risdon.

The Atletico Madrid striker converted from the spot, with Pogba’s late intervention getting Samuel Umtiti off the hook after his inexplicable handball gifted Mile Jedinak the chance to restore parity from 12 yards.

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