Paul Pogba, coming back from a 12-match lay-off of his own with a hamstring problem, started the game and played a pivotal role, laying on an equaliser for Anthony Martial and scoring United’s third.
But Ibrahimovic, who tore knee ligaments against Anderlecht in April and underwent career-saving surgery, drew the biggest cheer of the day when he appeared as a 77th-minute substitute.
“The second half was ours,” said Mourinho. “We had control, goals, beautiful actions and still time for a very emotional scene for all of us, who stayed close to such a professional with one of the biggest injuries in football.
“And so him coming back was a joy for everyone but for us close to him it was more than that, it was a big emotion to see the big guy back.”
— Premier League (@premierleague) November 18, 2017
Pogba was sorely missed during his two-month absence, not least by striker Romelu Lukaku who ended a run of seven games without a goal by adding the fourth for United against Newcastle.
And although he would not talk about Pogba during his injury, Mourinho was forthright about the French international’s value to United, although he now has to make a decision whether or not to select him for Wednesday’s Champions League group game with Basel.
“He was top,” said the United manager. “It looked like he was not out, he came back with a great performance, really great performance, he had great influence in the game.
“I agreed with him he had to make the decision of coming out at the first sign of fatigue because we don’t want to go over the limit so he played a little bit more than an hour.
“He affects our football. When he was injured I decided to close my mouth, we cannot be crying, we have to find solutions that we have but we all know – myself, and the fellow players – that some players influence the level of the team.
“So with him we had much more creation, we have a second way out from the first phase and I’m so happy. Let’s see the best decision for Wednesday.”
Our Man of the Match discussed being back in action following our 4-1 win over Newcastle…
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) November 18, 2017
LUKAKU ENDS DROUGHT
Pogba celebrated wildly, on his way down the tunnel, when Lukaku scored the fourth goal after 70 minutes and Mourinho was equally pleased to see the Belgian return to goalscoring ways.
“Strikers like to score goals,” he said. “It’s not a problem for me if he works like he always does and doesn’t score, but for their self esteem and self confidence they want to score goals.
“And he wasn’t doing that for a few matches and I know that can affect striker’s confidence, so I was really happy that he scored that goal.”
After the teams had traded goals, Chris Smalling headed United into a 2-1 lead in first-half injury-time, although Newcastle were close to snatching an equaliser before the break when an Isaac Hayden shot was well saved and Matt Ritchie’s follow-up shot was almost deflected in by Dwight Gayle, who had scored the opener.
“I’m really pleased and proud of my players for that opening 30 minutes,” Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez said. “But when you pay big money for players, they can make the difference.
“If we had scored a second it might have been different but, even if we had scored a second, you can’t think a game with Man United is finished with the level of their players. You know it is going to be 90 minutes of suffering but it’s a pity because we had chances.”
🎥 Rafa Benítez told NUFC TV he was “proud” of his players despite defeat at @ManUtd.
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) November 18, 2017
Provided by AFP Sport
Pogba, who had been sidelined for two months by a hamstring injury, started the game and Ibrahimovic came off the bench in the 77th minute, making his first appearance since suffering knee ligament damage in April.
The intervening period had seen the striker’s initial contract with United expire and him then re-sign for the club in August.
Here, we assess how the pair fared.
Among an array of classy work from Pogba in the first half, the best he produced came when he created the equaliser in the 37th minute, the France midfielder toying with Isaac Hayden on the right and then delivering a delightful cross for Anthony Martial to head home.
Having displayed some more excellent passing early in the second half, Pogba got on the scoresheet to make it 3-1, finishing from close range as he met Marcus Rashford’s tee-up.
A fine comeback performance then came to an end with his substitution in the 70th minute, and the hearty reception he received was certainly deserved.
There was also considerable noise from the crowd when Ibrahimovic was brought on soon after, and initially, his every touch prompted a cheer from the stands. He made some tidy passes and tried his luck on goal in the closing moments, with his strike being saved by Rob Elliot.
Ibrahimovic was asked after the match if he ever doubted he would return, and told BT Sport 1: “No, because lions they don’t recover like humans.”
The Swede added: “It’s special. Different day, same quality. I am not worried. I am not worried at all because I know what I do. I train hard. I sacrificed a lot.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
The France midfielder, fit again after a two-month absence, scored and set up another goal as United replied to Dwight Gayle’s early strike to keep themselves eight points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City.
Pogba created the equaliser for Anthony Martial before Chris Smalling put the hosts ahead. Pogba then increased the advantage and Romelu Lukaku made victory certain by ending his barren run.
United’s night got even better when they were able to bring Zlatan Ibrahimovic, out since April with a knee injury, on for his long-awaited comeback in the closing stages.
The result meant United boss Jose Mourinho got the better of his old rival Rafael Benitez in their first clash for a decade.
Pogba restored fluidity and dynamism to United’s midfield but the Magpies looked equally dangerous in the early stages.
Lukaku spurned the first chance when he headed over but Ciaran Clark was also off target at the other end.
Newcastle grabbed the lead in the 14th minute after DeAndre Yedlin broke clear down the right and pulled the ball back.
Victor Lindelof, making his first league start for United, slipped and Gayle took advantage to fire in a low shot off the post.
It was the first home goal United had conceded in the league this season and a second almost followed as Jonjo Shelvey played in Jacob Murphy but he shot wide.
United responded with Lukaku heading over before Pogba floated in a tempting cross for Martial to power home a 37th-minute equaliser.
Joselu headed dangerously close to his own goal as United threatened another but Newcastle continued to fight with Shelvey trying his luck from distance.
United went ahead in first-half stoppage time as Smalling, still forward following a corner, rose to meet an Ashley Young cross at the far post.
It gave the hosts an advantage they almost immediately lost as Newcastle put together another quick counter-attack.
Isaac Hayden broke into the area but his shot was parried by David de Gea and Matt Ritchie’s follow-up was deflected wide by Gayle.
United made the most of that reprieve to increase their advantage early in the second half. Lukaku’s cross from the right was met by a cushioned header from Marcus Rashford and Pogba raced in to tap over the line.
That gave United a measure of control but Newcastle went close again as Murphy forced De Gea into a good save.
Pogba was withdrawn with just over 20 minutes remaining to a good ovation but there was more to come from United as Lukaku increased their lead moments later.
The Belgian exchanged passes with Juan Mata and lashed a shot into the roof of the net for his first United goal since September.
That left the crowd in good heart and they had even more reason to cheer as Ibrahimovic came on to help close out the victory.