Jose Mourinho Praises ‘Mature’ Performance by Paul Pogba in France’s World Cup Semi Final

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Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has praised the ‘mature’ display from Paul Pogba as France beat Belgium in the first 2018 World Cup semi final on Tuesday night, with the United midfielder one of the best performers on the pitch.

France won the tie 1-0 thanks to a set piece goal from Samuel Umtiti, but Les Bleus also controlled the game and shut down Belgium after the Red Devils had started the game brighter.

Speaking to Russian broadcaster RT in London, Mourinho suggested that Belgium’s players “kept hiding”, adding that “many of the players were not there on the big occasion.”

France, meanwhile, were “good on the basics of the games,” he said.

Mourinho pointed to a “fantastic performance” by France centre-back Raphael Varane, a player that he worked with at Real Madrid and who has been persistently linked with United for several years, and a “very good performance by Pogba.”

Mourinho has not had the best relationship with Pogba in recent months, with the 25-year-old often frustrating his manager with inconsistent performances or by trying to do too much, or play things a little too cool. This game was different and Pogba was at his very best.

“Pogba was mature and played the game with great maturity,” Mourinho explained.

“When he had to hold his position and keep control of the game, he did.

“When [Didier] Deschamps took off [Olivier] Giroud to bring on [Steven] Nzonzi, then Pogba had more freedom, but had freedom not to do silly things.

“He had freedom to keep the ball away from the dangerous areas, to keep the ball to assist [Antoine] Griezmann for a great chance. He was very, very mature.”

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