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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

Jose Mourinho 'very emotional' at Ibrahimovic's return to Manchester United action and 'so happy' with Pogba's performance in win over Newcastle 

Pogba came into the starting line-up for the match after two months out with a hamstring problem and produced an excellent performance in 4-1 win at Old Trafford

Zlatan Ibrahimovic made his long awaited comeback from injury after re-signing with Manchester United in September. Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP Photo
Zlatan Ibrahimovic made his long awaited comeback from injury after re-signing with Manchester United in September. Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP Photo

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho hailed Paul Pogba's comeback display and described Zlatan Ibrahimovic's return to action as "very emotional" after a 4-1 win over Newcastle United.

Pogba came into the starting line-up for the match after two months out with a hamstring problem and produced an excellent performance, in which he created one goal and scored another.

The midfielder was substituted in the 70th minute, and seven minutes later striker Ibrahimovic was brought on for his first appearance since suffering knee ligament damage in April.

Mourinho said of Pogba after the Premier League contest at Old Trafford: "He was top. It looked like he had not been out. He came back with a really great performance. He was a great influence in the game.

"He had to come out when he felt the first sign of fatigue, because we don't want to go over the limits. So he played a little bit more than an hour, and for that hour it looked like he wasn't for such a long time not playing football."

When it was then put to him that some players are irreplaceable, Mourinho agreed, and added: "He affects our football.

"We all know, myself and the fellow players, that certain players influence the levels of the team. With him we have much more creation. I am so happy.

"Now let's see the best decision for Wednesday [when United play Basel away in the Champions League] - if the best thing for him is to play again, or for him to rest, because he is a player we need to protect."

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Regarding Ibrahimovic, who re-signed for United in August after his initial deal with them expired earlier in the summer, Mourinho said: "It was a very emotional scene for all of us that have stayed close to such a professional with one of the biggest injuries in football.

"I think him coming back was a joy for everyone, but for us close to him, it was more than that - it was big emotion to see the big guy coming back."

Ibrahimovic once again compared himself to a lion in a post-match interview.

Asked if he ever doubted he would return, the 36-year-old Swede told BT Sport 1: "No, because lions they don't recover like humans."

After they went 1-0 down in the 14th minute when Dwight Gayle netted, United's emphatic response saw Anthony Martial and Chris Smalling get on the scoresheet before the break and then Pogba and Romelu Lukaku - notching his first goal in eight club appearances - do so after.

Mourinho, whose side returned to second place in the league, eight points behind Manchester City, said: "The goal was like a wake-up call and the team reacted very well, very strong.

"In the second half I was seated and really enjoying the quality, and many times the beauty, of our game."

After what was a third straight defeat for his 11th-placed side, Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez said: "You see the difference in terms of money spent but it is not something we didn't know.

"We knew that was a massive difference between both teams. But I am really pleased with our performance in the first 30 minutes.

"My team was creating problems and doing well, working very hard.

"But then you play Newcastle United against Manchester United, so different levels and different teams. I am really proud of my players."