Report: Newcastle 1 United 1
Edinson Cavani made a goalscoring return as his second-half equaliser earned Manchester United a hard-fought point against an energetic Newcastle side at St James’ Park on Monday night.
Newcastle took the lead early in the first half through Allan Saint-Maximin’s fine finish, but Cavani - back in action for the first time since the start of November due to injury - came off the bench to poke home the leveller after the break.
Once again David De Gea came to the Reds’ rescue as our no.1 made a string of important saves, including an incredible fingertip stop late on from Miguel Almiron.
FIRST HALF - Magpies ahead at the break
Newcastle started the first period the faster of the two sides, and after just seven minutes they were ahead. Sean Longstaff dispossessed the returning Raphael Varane in midfield, before feeding Saint-Maximin, who cut inside and fired beyond De Gea.
The hosts continued their pressure, with Saint-Maximin’s dangerous pass just evading Callum Wilson before Joelinton saw an effort from outside the box whistle past the post.
The Reds began to respond after we had weathered the early storm, but on many occasions, we lacked the final ball. But as the first half progressed, Ralf Rangnick’s side created more clear-cut chances.
Bruno Fernandes saw his cross deflected to the back post, but when Cristiano Ronaldo attempted a left-footed volley, he was unable to connect.
Despite United’s possession, the Magpies thought they had doubled their lead after 38 minutes when Wilson found the net following a mazy run from Saint-Maximin, but it was rightly ruled out for offside.
Just two minutes later, Greenwood looked in for an equaliser for the Reds, following a well-worked free-kick, but Martin Dubravka was able to clear and preserve Newcastle’s lead going into the second half.
SECOND HALF - Cavani earns Reds a draw
The hosts almost started the second half the same way they began the first, with a goal, but De Gea produced a sublime stop to deny Saint-Maximin from less than six yards out.
The Reds had more urgency after the break and went close twice in quick succession, with Rashford’s strike being tipped over by Dubravka before Cavani mishit his shot wide following Jadon Sancho’s pull-back.
Despite United’s second-half improvement, Newcastle still offered a threat on the counterattack, and both Ryan Fraser and Saint-Maximin had shots well-saved by De Gea.
Rangnick’s men were rewarded for our pressure on 71 minutes, when a Diogo Dalot cross was fired home – at the second attempt – by Cavani.
The Uruguayan almost had his and United’s second a few minutes later, but his dinked attempt from close range was cleared before it crossed the line.
As the match drew to a close, the hosts piled more pressure on. With three minutes to play, Jacob Murphy saw his effort rebound off the post before De Gea produced yet another magnificent fingertip save to deny Almiron’s curling effort from nestling in the top corner.
Next up for the Reds, who still have two games in hand on a number of teams, is Burnley on Thursday night at Old Trafford.
Newcastle: Dubravka; Krafth, Schar, Lascelles (c), Manquillo; Shelvey, Longstaff, Joelinton, Fraser (Almiron 75), Saint-Maximin (Gayle 83); Wilson (Murphy 45).
Subs not used: Woodman, Gillespie, Hendrick, Anderson, White.
Goal: Saint-Maximin (7)
Booked: Krafth, Joelinton, Manquillo
United: De Gea; Dalot, Maguire (c), Varane, Telles; Fred (Sancho 46), McTominay (Matic 78); Fernandes, Rashford; Ronaldo, Greenwood (Cavani 46).
Subs not used: Henderson, Jones, Shaw, Wan-Bissaka, van de Beek, Elanga.
Goal: Cavani (71)
Booked: Ronaldo, Fernandes, Maguire