Manchester United defeated Newcastle United by 3-1 in a hard-fought win at Old Trafford on Sunday. Goals from Marcus Rashford, Daniel James, and Bruno Fernandes negated a solitary goal from Newcastle’s Saint-Maximin. After their comfortable victory over Sociedad in midweek, Ole’s boys brought some magic into the league form to stay in the title race.
Injuries forced Ole’s hand in making some changes to the lineup for the game. David de Gea returned between the sticks behind Maguire and Lindelof. Luke Shaw and Wan-Bissaka retained their role as the wing-backs. Rashford and James were on the left and right wings respectively. Matic and Fred held the midfield positions and Bruno and Martial spearheaded the attack. The substitutes included Telles, Williams, Amad, Axel, and Shoretire. Furthermore, the coaching staff was also replaced by stand-in coaches due to a COVID outbreak.
The opening minutes of the game were quite topsy turvy as both teams were struggling to hold onto the ball. Newcastle had an early chance after some poor defensive positioning, but United escaped thanks to de Gea. Newcastle pressed high and looked to extract an error from the hosts’ backline. A clearance error from de Gea gifted Newcastle another opportunity to score but fortunately, Shelvey’s attempt was off target. The Red Devils were trying to play out of the back repeatedly, despite being subject to constant pressure. The build-up lacked quality and speed and Newcastle were extremely successful in closing down United. Wan-Bissaka fired a hopeful shot from distance in the 29th minute but it was comfortably saved.
United grew into the game more around the half-hour mark as they began passing and moving with more pace and purpose. The hosts drew first blood in the 30th minute via a Rashford strike. Marcus nutmegged Newcastle’s Krafth before sprinting into the box. He cut onto his preferred right foot and fired into the bottom left corner from a tight angle. Although Darlow got a touch on the ball, the power on the shot was too much as Rashford wheeled away in celebration. Precise finishing there from Rashford to equal David Beckham’s tally of goals for Manchester United.
Unfortunately, the lead did not last long for United as they fell victim to another set-piece goal. A Newcastle corner allowed Allan Saint-Maximin acres of space in the box, and the winger rifled the ball into the top corner to make it 1-1. While some questions can be asked about Maguire’s header, there wasn’t much the center back could’ve done there. United looked frustrated after conceding another cheap goal and hoped to find the back of the net before halftime. However, apart from a tame shot from Fred, the hosts couldn’t do much.
The opening minutes of the second half saw Newcastle dominating the ball again as they looked to secure a comeback over the Red Devils. Saint-Maximin had another shot on target in the 50th minute but was luckily right at David de Gea. Questions were being asked of Manchester United and they knew that securing maximum points was a necessity. The tide turned in the hosts’ favor in the 58th minute when Nemanja Matic played a squared pass across the box towards Bruno. The Portuguese man got the slightest touch to play the ball onto Dan James, who took a touch and fired past Darlow to put United ahead.
A great few days for Dan James who continues to make a case for getting more game time. Anthony Martial tried to stamp his authority on the game by trying a powerful shot. Even though the shot was on target but Darlow was up to the task. United were looking more and more comfortable in the game as Newcastle’s players got tired.
Ole also looked to the bench and brought on Mason Greenwood to replace Anthony Martial. Although the French forward tried his best, the movement and quality from him were sub-par. Minutes later, Joe Willock fouled Rashford in the box. Undoubtedly, Bruno Fernandes stepped up and dispatched the penalty to make it game, set, and match for Manchester United. This was Bruno’s 54th goal involvement in a season and a half as the midfielder breaks record after record. United looked for a fourth goal as Maguire came close a couple of times.
Ole also brought on Juan Mata to replace Daniel James in the final few minutes. He also gave 17-year-old Shola Shoretire a debut as he replaced Marcus Rashford. Shoretire became the 7th youngest player to make his first-team debut. A lot of promise coming in from the Under-23s as Shoretire and Amad made their debuts and Hugill and Mejbri lie in wait.
A hard-fought victory full of character and patience for Manchester United as they nabbed second place from Leicester but are 10 points behind Manchester City. Rashford, James, and Bruno performed admirably and gave United a much-needed win. Although Matic and Fred struggled a little in the first half, they provided the attackers with some good passes later on in the game. Unfortunately, Martial struggled for a majority of the game. His movement and intent were quite poor. Although San-Maximin got his name on the scoresheet, Wan-Bissaka negated most of his attacks with a lot of success. United now host Sociedad for the second leg of their Europa League encounter while holding a 4-0 first-leg lead. They will then face Chelsea in a crucial league fixture next weekend, hoping to give Tuchel his first league loss as Chelsea’s manager.