He picked up where he left off after starring for World Cup winners France in Moscow a month ago to play a major part as United put their pre-season traumas behind them to make a winning start to the campaign.
Pogba, made skipper for the night, answered Jose Mourinho’s call to start the game despite only four days of training but showed no ring-rustiness in a remarkable man of the match performance that underlined why United refused to sell him to either Barcelona or Real Madrid.
He showed typical confidence to step up and net a third minute penalty but United had to survive some anxious moments until Luke Shaw netted his long-awaited first career goal seven minutes from time.
Jamie Vardy pulled one back in added time but it came too late.
Just to add to Mourinho’s problems after a fractious summer, United were late for the game, arriving only an hour before kick-off after their team bus was caught up in traffic.
With six players out injured Pogba answered his manager’s call for help by saying he was in the right mental and physical condition to start, despite having been back in training for only five days after his post-World Cup break.
Significantly, Pogba was made captain in the absence of Antonio Valencia and he started with some assurance, giving United a slightly fortuitous early lead.
Referee Andre Marriner had no hesitation in pointing to the spot when Alexis Sanchez’s shot hit Daniel Amartey on the arm, indicating to the protesting Foxes players that the defender had moved his arm towards the ball.
It was a harsh decision but Pogba showed his confidence by stepping up to take the kick.
Kasper Schmeichel must have fancied his chances given he had saved a penalty by Romelu Lukaku in the corresponding fixture last season and after his spot-kick heroics for Denmark in the World Cup last 16 tie against Croatia.
But after a strange, shuffling approach, Pogba lifted a perfect shot into the top corner to give United the start they needed. For a while they played on adrenaline with Fred showing some clever touches and Sanchez looking far fitter than last season.
Leicester gradually came into the game and for the rest of the half looked more dangerous with Ben Chilwell causing problems down the left and Adrien Silva and James Maddison linking well in midfield.
United needed some desperate last-ditch defending plus two outstanding stops from David De Gea to preserve their lead.
De Gea saved a long-range shot from Wilfred Ndidi and produced an even better stop to deny Maddison a goal on his debut.
A worried Mourinho spent much of the half writing notes but United regained some control towards the end of the first half with Pogba firing a 25-yard-shot straight at Schmeichel and Sanchez heading over.
United came out for the second half looking to assert more control but found a Leicester side who refused to be ruffled.
Leicester sent on Jamie Vardy midway through the half to increase their penetration and Mourinho responded by sending Lukaku into the fray for a tiring Marcus Rashford.
De Gea came to their rescue again when he saved brilliantly from Demarai Gray’s close-range effort after Vardy had knocked Shaw off the ball and crossed into the six-yard box.
Lukaku should have wrapped it up for United when he was set up by Sanchez but his close range effort hit Schmeichel and landed on top of the net.
But Shaw made certain of the points by sliding home a shot from a tight angle. It was his first goal – four years after his £30m move from Southampton – and he was mobbed by his team-mates as a hugely relieved Mourinho celebrated by hugging fans on the touchline.
There was still anxiety for United when Vardy nodded in but they held out for victory.
Man Utd (4-3-3): De Gea 7; Darmian 6, Bailly 7, Lindelof 6, Shaw 7; Fred 7 (McTominay 76), Pereira 7, Pogba 8 (Fellaini 84); Mata 6, Rashford 6 (Lukaku 67), Sanchez 6.
Booked: Fred, Pereira.
Goals: Pogba 3 pen, Shaw 83.
Leicester (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel 6; Amartey 6 (Ghezzal 63), Morgan 6, Maguire 7, Chilwell 8; Ndidi 6, Silva 7 (Iborra 80); Pereira 7, Maddison 7 (Vardy 63), Gray 7, Iheanacho
Booked: Amartey, Madison.
Goal: Vardy 90.
Referee: A Marriner (W Midlands).