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Paul Pogba misses flight back with Manchester United team-mates after drug testing delay


Paul Pogba misses flight back with Manchester United team-mates after drug testing delay

Paul Pogba missed the flight back to Manchester with his team-mates after being kept back for post-match drug testing following United’s memorable win over Juventus.

The French midfield star arrived back at Manchester Airport an hour after his colleagues having flown back from Turin with club executives and fans.

UEFA selects players from both teams at random to prove urine samples for anti-doping controls after each match.

But at least Jose Mourinho and his squad returned home in a happy mood in the early hours of Thursday morning after their Champions League success.

The manager even got the seal of approval from the club’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward after landing at Manchester Airport.

Juan Mata’s stunning free-kick and an own goal from Alex Sandro in the final five minutes at the Allianz Stadium kept United firmly on course for the knockout stages.

It certainly will put a spring in their step ahead of Sunday’s derby match against Premier League leaders Manchester City as Mourinho slowly starts to turn United’s season around.

United had fallen behind to Cristiano Ronaldo’s stunning volley in Turin but enacted a late turnaround that was reward for a bold and spirited performance.

Though United remain second behind Juventus in Group H, the margin is just two points and they will qualify for the last-16 if they beat Young Boys at Old Trafford in their next game and Juventus beat Valencia.

Mourinho was keen to milk the moment having celebrated enthusiastically at the final whistle, leading to a confrontation with several Juventus players.

‘Probably when Manchester United had heroics here (in 2003), Manchester United was the best team,’ Mourinho said.

‘And they (Juventus) are a top team for many years now. They bought that player (Ronaldo), they want to win everything, they can win everything and we are a team where many of the players didn’t play big matches like this in the Champions League.

‘So, it is a different situation but it is a fantastic victory for us – a victory that is not just about the points we lost at home, it is about the feeling of how well we played.

‘And I think even if this game doesn’t end with a victory, I would have the same feeling that the team played really, really well from the first minute – I repeat – against a super team.’

Mourinho certainly lapped up the moment at the Allianz Stadium. A fortnight on from responding to inflammatory chants from the Juventus fans at Old Trafford by holding up three fingers, representing the treble he oversaw when manager at Inter Milan, he took to the pitch and cupped his ear at full-time.

‘Well, do you remember what they did to me? Well, the sign I made is actually not an offence,’ Mourinho said.

‘This is something more… I just wanted to hear them making comments again or not. Yes, before I said I would not do it but then I did (react).’

You can see why Mourinho got caught up in things on a night where he praised substitute Marouane Fellaini for making ‘the team alive again’.

The imposing midfielder made his presence felt as the winner went in, with victory injecting new life into their Champions League campaign and providing a great lift ahead of Sunday’s derby clash at Manchester City.

‘I think we played this season against Chelsea and Juventus away, the two best teams that we faced this season, and we played very well in both,’ Mourinho said. ‘Very well in both.

‘In here, lucky to win in the last minute. Against Chelsea, unlucky not to win in last minute, but we played very, very well and this is what we want.

‘We want to play well, we want to go to every stadium and it doesn’t matter the team and we play.

‘Then, if they are better than us, they win. If they have more potential than us, they win. If we make mistakes and pay for the mistakes, we lose.

‘But I want the feeling that it doesn’t matter where we go, we go to compete and I think this is a feeling that also the Manchester United supporters around the world want to have – switch on the television and it doesn’t matter where we play, they know we are going to compete.

‘We will lose matches. Today we could lose, but that feeling of ‘we go to play, we go to try to win’.’

Juventus counterpart Massimiliano Allegri was naturally disappointed after falling to a late defeat on home turf.

‘It’s a shame,’ he said. ‘The team produced a good performance but were never able to put them to bed.

‘There’s always a risk when you play against the top teams. We give away too many free-kicks in both wide and central areas.

‘That said, we’re still top. We have two games left that we can use to ensure we win the group and go through to the last 16.’

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July 2020
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