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United break Boro hearts at the death with two goals in two minutes

Martial and Pogba strike late in thrilling Old Trafford finale.

Manchester United v Middlesbrough - Premier League - Old Trafford Pogba's late winner gave United a fifth straight league win. Source: Dave Thompson

PAUL POGBA HEADED a late, late winner as Manchester United beat Middlesbrough 2-1 in dramatic finish at Old Trafford.

United trailed 1-0 until the 85th minute when Anthony Martial broke through to beat Victor Valdes and equalise.

And a minute later Pogba, the world’s most expensive footballer, steered home a header to ensure that it will be a happy new year for Jose Mourinho’s side.

This was United’s fifth straight win in the Premier League, moving them level on points with Tottenham Hotspur who have played one game less.

And as Alex Ferguson watched from the stands on his 75th birthday, it was reminiscent of the never say die attitude that typified his teams but which has so often been lacking under his successors.

United thought that they had taken the lead in the 38th minute when Zlatan Ibrahimovic beat Valdes in a 50/50 race to Martial’s cross, but referee Lee Mason questionably decided that the Swede’s kung-fu finish constituted dangerous play due to a high boot.

Manchester United v Middlesbrough - Premier League - Old Trafford Grant Leadbitter's goal gave Boro the lead against the run of play. Source: Martin Rickett

Manchester United v Middlesbrough - Premier League - Old Trafford Source: Dave Thompson

United finished the afternoon with 32 shots on goal and more than 65% possession but it was Boro who took the lead against the run of play in the 67th minute. Alvaro Negredo cushioned Calum Chambers’ cross into the path of Grant Leadbitter, and his low shot left David de Gea with no chance.

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Mourinho had already made two changes at that point, bringing on Marcos Rojo and Juan Mata for Daley Blind and Marouane Fellaini.

And with his final roll of the dice, he withdrew Chris Smalling and sent on Marcus Rashford, switching to a three-man defence in the hope of forcing an equaliser.

Manchester United v Middlesbrough - Premier League - Old Trafford Martial did well under pressure to equalise. Source: Martin Rickett

Rashford made an instant impact, threatening the Boro goal on more than one occasion, while Martial drew a save from Valdes and Mata saw his shot deflected over the bar as United pressed for their equaliser.

It eventually came five minutes from time as Pogba dropped deep into his own half to collect the ball before picking out a 50-yard pass to Ibrahimovic. He nodded to Martial who made no mistake with the finish.

And just over 60 seconds later, United had their winner as Mata found space on the right and put the ball up for Pogba to head home.

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As it happened: Manchester United v Middlesbrough, Premier League

About the author:

Niall Kelly

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