Newcastle 0 United 2
Manchester United made it four wins out of four under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a hard-fought 2-0 victory at Newcastle United.
Second-half goals by substitute Romelu Lukaku, with his first touch, and Marcus Rashford accounted for the Magpies and ensured Solskjaer follows Sir Matt Busby in winning each of his first four matches at the helm.
A clean sheet will also delight the Norwegian as Rafa Benitez's side pushed hard but were unable to find a way past a determined Reds rearguard. With Chelsea held at home to Southampton, the battle to get a top-four slot seems very much alive.
United made three changes to the team that demolished Bournemouth 4-1 last time out, with skipper Antonio Valencia, Phil Jones and Juan Mata replacing Ashley Young, the suspended Eric Bailly and Jesse Lingard.
Although the Reds were in control early on, there was only really a Rashford free-kick, that was pushed away by Martin Dubravka, to show for our superiority. And the hosts came out of their shell with Christian Atsu allowed too much space on a couple of occasions and working David De Gea. Soon afterwards, Phil Jones atoned for an error in the build-up by making a perfectly timed tackle on Salomon Rondon inside the area, with no margin for error.
Anthony Martial hit the side-netting after a lightning break but Atsu remained a threat as he wastefully dragged an effort across goal, following a superb through ball by Ayoze Perez. Solskjaer's men regained a grip on proceedings but passed up a couple of decent opportunities. Rashford met a pass by Victor Lindelof but collided with Dubravka as he made a block, while Martial sliced onto the top of the net, after nice play by Paul Pogba and Mata, as he lost his balance with the goal in his sights.
Pogba sent a shot wide and Dubravka again got a slice of luck with United pressing, as he just about managed to snuff out Mata when the ball broke to the Spaniard. Rondon nodded over the top from a decent build-up as the Magpies were pleased with the opening 45 minutes, even if the end of the half became disjointed due to some injury stoppages.
After a stop-start beginning to the second period, Lindelof dispossessed Rondon and found Rashford in a promising position. Although he was onside, despite the home fans' protests, the England international opted for a powerful shot rather than a number of options in the middle and got his direction all wrong. The Tynesiders grew in confidence with Atsu firing low and wide and substitute Jonjo Shelvey forcing De Gea into a save.
De Gea had to be careful when nicking the ball away from Atsu after another positive run by the Ghanaian as Newcastle continued to ask questions of the United defence. However, a double change by Solskjaer reaped instant reward as Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez replaced Martial and Mata. Rashford's free-kick was spilled by Dubravka and, seconds after entering the fray, Lukaku gobbled up the rebound to break the deadlock.
Back came the hosts with Shelvey making space for himself to lash in another attempt and the lively Atsu crashing a drive just the wrong side of the post from a Newcastle perspective. It needed another goal to kill the game off and it duly arrived with 10 minutes remaining. Rashford and Lukaku broke and the Belgian managed to make tracks down the right. His pass inside found Alexis and the Chilean moved it on to Rashford, who supplied a measured finish past Dubravka.
Shelvey, who left a mark on Pogba with a poor challenge, headed over the bar but Pogba should have added an injury-time third, skipping onto a Jesse Lingard pass and cruising past Dubravka, only to hit the side-netting with the goal gaping. Lukaku also had a shot saved as United finished on a high, making a superb start to 2019.
Newcastle: Dubravka; Yedlin, Schar (Muto 80), Lascelles (c), Hayden, Dummett; Diame (Shelvey 52), Atsu, Ritchie; Rondon, Perez (Kenedy 69).
Subs not used: Woodman, Lejuene, Manquillo, Joselu.
United: De Gea; Valencia (c), Lindelof, Jones, Shaw; Herrera, Matic, Pogba; Mata (Alexis 63), Rashford (Lingard 87), Martial (Lukaku 63).
Subs not used: Romero, Darmian, Young, Fred.
Scorers: Lukaku 64, Rashford 80
Booked: Lindelof, Shaw.
Ole's Reds entertain Reading in the Emirates FA Cup third round at Old Trafford on Saturday, kick-off is at 12:30 GMT.