One touch out of his feet and bang. Yann Sommer probably knew what was coming, yet couldn’t stop it.
It was Paul Pogba in a nutshell. Brilliance.
Sommer went on to have the last laugh, of course. The Switzerland goalkeeper saved Kylian Mbappe’s penalty in the shoot-out and tournament favourites France had careered out of the European Championships at the last 16 stage.
Paul Pogba demonstrated his world class talent despite France’s exit from Euro 2020
Pogba was left crestfallen. In truth he didn’t deserve that – though there’ll be some who, predictably, have tried to pin the blame on the Manchester United star’s shoulders.
It’s hard to explain why, really.
It couldn’t have been his performances – Pogba was one of, if not the, player of the tournament for Les Bleus.
Not that anyone at Old Trafford needs convincing of Pogba’s qualities, but if they needed a reminder then, despite France’s early exit, they have just had it.
So what is it? Why are his detractors so fierce?
The 28-year-old scored one of the goals of the tournament during France’s exit to Switzerland
However, Pogba has had to shoulder the blame for the world champions’ disastrous campaign
His hair? Clothes? Because it certainly can’t be the football. It’s hard to understand exactly why Pogba splits opinion like he does.
Unquestionably an elite footballer in every sense of the word – he’s got a little bit of everything in his locker.
A devout Muslim and family man – you won’t see him falling out of nightclubs during the early hours of Sunday morning.
So why does he get such a hard time?
Instead of trying to pick holes in Pogba, he should be celebrated. Lesser players get a far easier ride.
Pogba lives the lifestyle of an elite footballer and won’t be seen stumbling out of nightclubs
He is also the natural leader of the France team and is appreciated by his team-mates
A supreme central midfield talent who would compliment any football team on the planet – those with an educated eye don’t need persuading.
His performances for France at the Euros were excellent. The driving force and heartbeat of Didier Deschamps team, none of his colleagues are in doubt of his quality.
Pogba doesn’t wear the armband but make no mistake – he is the leader of his national team.
He knows it – but more importantly – so does his team-mates. Deschamps leans on him, his playing colleagues – especially the younger members of the squad – view him as a mentor.
His performances for France are better for his standing within their set-up.
Yet Pogba does not enjoy the same status within Manchester United’s dressing room
Yet, his status at Old Trafford isn’t so clearly defined.
He is one of United’s better footballers, that is undeniable. Yet Pogba isn’t handled with the same sort of love or held in the same esteem as he is with his national team.
He was the go-to guy at Juventus, and now with France, but it appears he simply doesn’t hold the same gravitas at United.
The midfielder is big and ugly enough to deal with that – but you wonder if it rankles with him.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, or at least he should, knows what he’s got yet seems reluctant to build his team around Pogba.
When the Frenchman first arrived back in Manchester in 2016, the expectancy was that he would be the heartbeat and leader of United for the preceding decade.
The Frenchman was expected to be the talisman but it has not materialised that way so far
Pogba has a year left on his deal and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have plans for life without him
It hasn’t materialised that way.
Much has changed since then, of course. Jose Mourinho, with whom he shared a fractious relationship, has gone and Ole is now at the wheel.
Yet his return to United has been a cycle of up and downs. Moving forward, the coming weeks could prove the most crucial of them all.
He played 57 games for club and country last season, he deserves his break.
But his future won’t be far from the forefront of his mind heading into the summer holidays.
If Pogba does leave United in next summer’s window, English football will be poorer for it
Pogba has entered the final 12 months of his contract and United are understandably keen to extend.
But his excellent displays at the Euros is likely to throw a spanner in the works – not that the continent’s elite football clubs needed reminding of his capabilities, of course.
His forthcoming talks with the club will no doubt prove pivotal to what comes next.
Does Pogba re-sign? Only time will tell, though you’d imagine Solskjaer’s plans for the team and his role within it will have a key bearing.
If he doesn’t re-sign, well, English football be poorer for it.