Newcastle United were defeated by Manchester United 0-1 at St James' Park on Wednesday after Ashley Young deposited a defensive miscue in the back of the net in the 88th minute. It was a match marred by controversy and elevated by the return of Jonás Gutiérrez.
Outside of the derby losses, this is maybe the most devastating loss Newcastle has suffered in quite some time. Here they were, playing well against a respectable team in the second half of the season, and they still couldn't slam the door. Sure, they were denied a stonewall penalty in the 10th minute when Chris Smalling took out Emmanuel Rivière, and it's pretty clear that Jonny Evans should have been sent off for spitting on Papiss Cissé, but the Magpies got in their own way as well. Cissé later pulled a shot wide on a clear cut 2-on-1 breakaway, and countless chances went wasted by various members of Newcastle's supporting cast, Gabriel Obertan chief among them. Worse yet, it was one of the few matches this season where the defense was more or less organized, and Tim Krul made some ridiculous saves along the way. Ultimately, it was an ill-advised Mehdi Abeid backpass and a panicked Krul clearance that did them in, and perhaps the worst part of the day was that it happened to fall at the feet of the worst person in the football world, one Ashley Young, who of course celebrated like he had produced the goal of the season.
The result overshadowed a decent (but not great) performance and put a damper on the goodwill extended by Jonás' return from defeating testicular cancer. Most of what I'll remember of this match, though, is the awful refereeing by a low-level official who also happens to hail from the Manchester area. He put in a farce of a performance, and the result was a farce as well.