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Eventful Half At Old Trafford

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There has been no shortage of things to talk about in the Boxing Day match between Newcastle United and Manchester United.

Matthew Lewis

You all know the stat du jour - Newcastle United haven't won at the Theater of Dreams since 1972. Today may be no different, but an entertaining first half may be enough to give Alan Pardew's men belief that today just might be the day to make history.

The match wasn't even a minute old when Newcastle made their statement that they were interested as Vurnon Anita put a lovely free kick deep into the box that Demba Ba found himself on the end of - to be fair, he had a lot to do, but whiffed on a shot attempt. The die, as they say, had been cast. A breakthrough was coming, however, and it would come in the fourth minute as Demba Ba took a fairly speculative shot from outside the box (hard and low, admittedly) that David de Gea parried when he might have smothered it... and the follow up was put in by James Perch. 1-0 very early to Newcastle.

Newcastle would continue to play well and create chances, but it would be Manchester United who would level in the 25th minute. A soft foul call some 30 yards out or so on the right sideline led to Robin van Persie lofting a useful ball into the Newcastle area. Predictably, the Toon did their best Keystone Cops routine on it, and it ended up bundled home by Jonny Evans. It seems that this kind of goal is going to just be part and parcel of being a Toon fan these days.

Newcastle continued to look good in this half, creating on the offensive end and remaining solid enough on the defensive end - and it would pay off from the boot of Danny Simpson. Simpson, who has had quite a decent match to this point, whipped in yet another useful ball (not his first of the match, to be certain) which, despite Papiss Cisse being in an offside position when the ball was played, was turned into the Manchester United net by Jonny Evans. The assistant ref flagged for offside, but ultimately the goal was given by Mike Dean, presumably ruling that it was passive offside as the ball never made it to him. (Tweet presumably from England World Cup ref Graham Poll included below)

@SoccerByIves

MT @MAIL_GPoll: @Marcotti Position of offside not an offence. IFAB rule interference only when playing ball. Evans played it.

45 minutes to go in what could turn out to be a famous day for the Toon! Howay the lads!