Manchester United vs Newcastle United: A Match Review
Mid-week fixtures are always a pleasant phenomenon. They are the respite from the blues that Wednesdays bring. This time however, mid-week meant Boxing Day, which also inevitably meant holidays. The spirit of the season was alive right from the start, and the game wasn’t going to be an easy one. The Magpies were visiting and Manchester United were hoping to take three points at home to heat up the title race.
Alan Pardew’s men didn’t exactly resemble their form from this time last year. In 15th place, the team was striving hard to find form. United had just given away points over the weekend to a determined Swansea, and were in no mood to do an encore, especially with City breathing down their necks.
Wayne Rooney was injured in training and Ferguson started with the ex Gunner, Robin van Persie up front. Newcastle were decently equipped to tackle the odds, with Ba and Cisse leading the line. As expected, the game turned out to be an end to end contest, which may or may not always be a good thing. Both teams were hungry, and it showed. United wanted to extend their lead further while Newcastle wanted to steer safe in to the top half of the table.
A quick start from Newcastle saw James Perch park one behind De Gea in the 4th minute. United were suddenly hapless as wave after wave was repelled by the visiting backline, only to be finally broken by an unlikely candidate. Jonny Evans found himself clear after a van Persie free kick pinballed in to his path. A couple of minutes later, Evans found himself scoring one at the wrong end of the stadium when a cross bobbed off his leg, leaving De Gea unsure of a reaction. Cisse was clearly offside but the assistant referee had time enough to overturn his initial reaction to lift Newcastle up by one. Going in to the half losing by one is never a happy sight as Ferguson’s hair-dryers are well documented.
Marveaux’s attempt to lead by two met the crossbar. The dressing down showed and Evra decided to equalize with a foray forward, sneaking a weak shot under the diving Krul. Gabriel Obertan was brought on to a not-so-friendly reception at his old home. Homecomings usually add to the flavor, and Obertan was there on the left flank where a cheeky pullback met a rampaging Cisse who pulled the trigger and left De Gea stranded for the third time in 70 minutes.
Having taken the lead thrice, Newcastle never really settled down to park the bus. United didn’t mind and van Persie quickly brought equilibrium with a low shot after his first attempt bobbed around the 6 yard box. Neither team looked convincing enough for the three points but as luck would have it, neither team could find their feet. Sammy Ameobi, who replaced Cisse, rolled one past the United keeper who saw it strike the far post before finding it in his safe arms. A draw would have been apt, and looked likely. Chicharito squandered chance after delicious chance, before finally closing the deal in the last minute of regulation time. Redeeming himself, the little Pea was sure and slotted the ball past Krul to land three points and add a healthy lead at the top as the noisy neighbours lost to Sunderland after their former employee, Adam Johnson, pulled one on them. Not the cleanest of games, but entertaining nonetheless.