Manchester United 3 Newcastle United 1

Sunday 21 February 2021 20:50

Manchester United’s second-half power play broke down a dogged Newcastle United team, as the Reds got back to winning ways in the Premier League with a deserved 3-1 victory at Old Trafford.

After disappointing draws against West Bromwich Albion and Everton in our last two league matches, United finally came good in an assignment that was arguably tougher than expected against a Newcastle side not exactly coming to Manchester high on confidence, given the daunting shadow of a relegation scrap hanging over them.

Our one-time captain and defensive legend Steve Bruce had his side galvanised for this return to his former home. Marcus Rashford broke the deadlock after half an hour with an excellent individual goal but the Geordies hit back with a leveller from Allan Saint-Maximin.

The second half belonged to United largely with Daniel James following up his late goal in Thursday's 4-0 win in the Europa League against Real Sociedad to put us ahead 2-1 after 57 minutes.

Rashford was then fouled in the box by Joe Willock and Bruno Fernandes put away his 17th United penalty, beating Karl Darlow from the spot in the 75th minute.

It was an unusually shaky start by United against a Newcastle side who are flirting dangerously with the relegation zone. The visitors were as bright as their luminous yellow kit and the Reds appeared somewhat unhinged by the approach from Steve Bruce's men.

After four minutes, Magpies striker Joelinton lobbed in a high cross that David De Gea punched away as it dropped out of the glare of the floodlights and night sky. Newcastle picked up on the clearance and eventually Jonjo Shelvey smashed a shot over. The one-time Liverpool midfielder then blazed over again after De Gea’s poor pass put the Reds in danger.

A low Daniel James shot, easily gathered by Newcastle keeper Karl Darlow, was the closest United came to turning the tide before Almiron responded with his own long-distance effort saved by De Gea.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka had a blast too but something a bit more subtle and spectacular was needed. It came after 30 minutes, from Rashford. Our number ten was hugging the left touchline when Victor Lindelof picked him out and he audaciously nutmegged Newcastle right-back Issac Krafth. The defender managed to get back into position but Rashford simply came inside his opponent and drilled a thunderous shot past Darlow at his near post.

Newcastle, however, weren’t crushed by the setback and Saint-Maximin hit a drive that the busy De Gea superbly kept out. But the let off was brief and in his next duel with our Spanish number one, Saint-Maximin fired in a powerful equaliser, in the 36th minute.

Tempers flared briefly soon after - Bruno and Fred were visibly unhappy with Isaac Hayden. When the playing action resumed, it was Fred who had a cracking drive from distance that was well covered by Darlow.

Newcastle goalscorer and danger man Saint-Maximin was quickest out of the attacking blocks in the second half as the Frenchman forced De Gea into yet another save after 50 minutes.

The Reds, though, finally came alive in the 57th minute with the cool Nemanja Matic setting up a 2-1 lead. Our Serbian midfielder fooled Newcastle’s defence as, rather than prodding a pass down the left line, he turned inside instead and wrong footed the rearguard before feeding a ball to the right where James scored his fifth of the season as he swept a low shot emphatically past Darlow.

United were buzzing and the Newcastle goalkeeper had to pull off an excellent save to deny Martial scoring with a powerful hit, three minutes after the Reds' second goal. The Frenchman made way for Mason Greenwood in the 69th minute as Solskjaer made his first change of the match.

Matic and Rashford combined in the move that led to the final strike of the game, with the latter being brought down inside the area by Willock. Fernandes stepped up to tuck home the penalty and at last, with 15 minutes remaining, the Reds had breathing space in the contest.

Luke Shaw’s excellent stream of late second-half deliveries with corners from both sides of the pitch set up a host of chances for United. The left back couldn’t quite get an assist, however, as Matic and Harry Maguire, twice, just couldn’t head the set piece opportunities home for a fourth.

With United finally now cruising, there was a lovely moment for Shola Shoretire as the Newcastle-born 17-year-old made his senior Reds debut as he replaced Rashford. Fellow substitute Juan Mata offered him words of congratulations as he also came on, for James who had also enjoyed another good night.
Ole's pre-match interview Video

Ole's pre-match interview

The boss discusses his five changes, Dan James's form and how Nicky Butt's presence on the bench could help us...


United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire. Shaw; Fred, Matic; James (Mata 88), Fernandes, Rashford (Shoretire 88); Martial (Greenwood 69).

Subs not used: Henderson, Bailly, Telles, Tuanzebe, Williams, Amad.

Goals: Rashford (30), James (57), Fernandes (75 pen).

Booking: Fernandes.

Newcastle: Darlow, Krafth, Lascelles, Clark, Lewis, Hayden, Shelvey, Willock, Almiron (Gayle 79), Saint-Maximin (Murphy 77), Joelinton (Fraser 55).

Subs not used: Dubravka, Dummett, Carroll, Ritchie, Hendrick, S Longstaff.

Goal: Saint-Maximin (36).

Bookings: Hayden, Joelinton.