Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has praised the bravery of Paul Pogba for taking a penalty during the Old Trafford side’s 2-1 Premier League win over Everton.
The Red Devils had gone into the game under pressure to get the win after a poor start to the league campaign saw them fall off the pace of the top four, particularly after they were outplayed 1-0 by Juventus at home in the Champions League in midweek.
Mourinho’s men got the result that they desired, though, with Pogba opening the scoring before Anthony Martial doubled their advantage in the second half. A late goal from Gylfi Sigurdsson set up a tense finish but United saw the game out.
Pogba, meanwhile, caught the headlines for the game’s first goal. He missed a penalty, for which he took an extravagant run up, but tucked home the rebound when the ball bounced kindly back to him off the arm of visiting goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
While some lined up to criticise the World Cup winner, who has now missed from the spot twice this season, having also failed against Burnley, and scored three times, Mourinho took to the defence of his player.
“I don’t like Mickey Mouses: fragile, afraid to go, don’t take penalties – I don’t like that,” he said.
“I like the desire to take it. I like players who want to take it.”
The 25-year-old has not been a regular spot-kick taker during his career, having hit only three penalties at club level before this season. He scored his first for Juventus in 2015 but then missed for the Turin giants a month later.
His only previous penalty with United was in the 2016-17 Europa League run, with a successful conversion in a 4-1 win at home against Fenerbahce in the group stage of the competition, which the Red Devils went on to win.
He has, therefore, taken a total of eight penalties at club level, scoring five but missing three, giving him a conversion rate of only 62.5%.
Meanwhile, he has played 13 times for United this season, scoring five times and creating four more.