Wolves 0-1 Man Utd: Did Paul Pogba foul Ruben Neves in build-up to Mason Greenwood's winner?

Graeme Souness has branded Paul Pogba’s challenge on Ruben Neves in the build-up to Manchester United’s winning goal at Wolves a “leg-breaker”, claiming the Frenchman was fortunate to avoid seeing a red card.

Mason Greenwood continued his electric start to the season as his late strike snatched Manchester United a 1-0 victory at Wolves at Molineux.

Greenwood became just the second teenager to score in his team’s opening three games of a Premier League campaign, after Robbie Fowler for Liverpool in 1994-95, but Souness believes the goal shouldn’t have stood following Pogba’s challenge on Neves leading up to the strike in the 81st minute.

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“It is a foul,” he told Sky Sports. “Pogba doesn’t make any contact with the ball whatsoever. He made contact with the shin and the shinguard.

“How is it not a foul? That’s a leg-breaker. The referee is not blind-sided by anything, he’s two metres away from it. Whether Neves goes down immediately or doesn’t go down, that is immaterial. That is a leg-breaker. Look how close he is.

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“That referee has deemed that not to be a foul. That’s impossible for anyone who knows anything about football to say that’s not a foul. He’s two yards away.

“He’s nowhere near the ball. It’s more than worrying. It’s alarming when a so-called senior referee doesn’t see that as a foul.”

Roy Keane agreed with Souness’ assessment, believing Pogba overstepped the mark in spite of referees having been given a new directive to allow games to flow more this season.

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“The real frustration for Wolves is that they’ve played really well and still lost the game,” he said. “It rubs salt into the wounds. We all like the physical part of the game, but today I think that was a foul.

“Usually, when a poor decision is made we talk about the referee’s position but [Mike Dean] is in a great position. There was contact and I think it was a foul. Their biggest frustration is that they’ve lost the game.

“If he gives that as a foul, not one Manchester United player would’ve complained. Most fouls come from a bad touch, and Pogba took a bad touch there. He’s chasing after it but I think Neves could’ve been a bit smarter.”

As a special guest on Sky Sports, Robbie Keane added: “The issue for Ruben is that he’s too honest. We don’t want players rolling around and falling all over the place. That’s where the referee has to come in, standing so close to it, to say that’s a foul. VAR needs to look back and see that.”

For his part, Pogba insisted he did not touch Neves in the tackle in the build-up to the goal.

“My view is, this is the Premier League, it’s a 50-50, every weekend you have this happening and today it was a question,” Pogba added.

“If it was a foul it would be a foul. It was 50-50, I need to see it again but I don’t touch him.”

Neves disagreed with the French World Cup winner and insisted he got to the ball first and was fouled.

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“Everyone saw it. Everyone saw my leg. I don’t know why to be honest with you. We always have meetings and everything about VAR – I don’t know why,” Neves told Sky Sports.

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“They said before the season starts they would look for contact and if the contact is strong enough they will give the foul.

“I showed them my leg, that’s their decision now. I think maybe because last game (for Manchester United against Southampton) it was before the attempt on goal.

“Now they did the opposite. But I’m not here to talk about the ref, everyone saw my leg, I showed it to the assistant ref, but I cannot say anything now, that’s their decision.”

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When asked about the incident, Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said: “Last week I was complaining because we didn’t get a foul – it’s the way of the game now. They want it flowing, they want more lenient refereeing.

“I don’t think it’s a foul, I think two of them go for the ball and it’s a good tackle by Paul [Pogba].

“It has to be consistent, but it will take a few weeks to find that correct line. We were told before the game today that the referee would let the game flow. With the crowd, the passion, the game was all about passion in the crowd and on the pitch.”

Greenwood’s third goal in three games made the hosts pay for a string of missed chances and also saw United set a new all-time English football record by extending their unbeaten away record to 28 matches.

But United needed David de Gea’s sensational second-half stop from Romain Saiss to give them the platform for victory.

It capped a dramatic week at Old Trafford after United agreed a deal with Juventus to bring Cristiano Ronaldo back to the club, 12 years after he left for Real Madrid.

Solskjaer added: “It was not the prettiest game but it was a game for everyone to watch, it was exciting in both boxes, the crowd was there, some passion, but finally we’ve got our game back.”

When asked if he was fortunate the home side were unable to convert any of their numerous chances, he added: “On the day they had maybe a little bit more than us, we didn’t create too much today, but then we’ve got a good goalkeeper as well.

“David’s found his determination, desire and he’s come back with loads of energy and you can see that in the work he’s doing every single day.

“The second save from that corner is special, that’s not just hit him, that’s reaction and he’s got a strong arm to it.”

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What’s next?

There is an international break for these teams before Wolves return to action against newly-promoted Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday, September 11.

Manchester United play that day too, hosting Newcastle United at Old Trafford in what could well mark Ronaldo’s comeback appearance for the club.

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