A game viewed with more fear than hope, Newcastle United shocked the whole of Old Trafford by taking a 2-0 lead inside 10 minutes.
Throughout the first half Newcastle were by far the better side, the Magpies could’ve easily scored more. David De Gea was forced into making a couple of smart saves from Jonjo Shelvey and Yoshinori Muto, when Rafael Benitez’s side were 2-0 up. However, a game changing decision by referee Anthony Taylor in the first half, makes the defeat all the more gutting. Shelvey had lined up to take a free-kick, with the referee seemingly not paying any attention at all, the Newcastle midfielder struck the free-kick, Ashley Young moved his arm towards the ball, deflecting off the Manchester United man and out of play. Shelvey quite rightly so, screamed for handball, the referee was unmoved and to add insult to injury, he awarded a goal kick. Replays showed that Taylor had not been looking when the free-kick had been taken, it could’ve been very different for Newcastle if he had. When your luck is out, these are the type of scenarios that go against a team.
For Newcastle’s first goal, Perez threaded through a ball to Kenedy, who stepped inside onto his left foot, placing the ball beyond De Gea. The Brazilian showed great composure to notch his first of the season. Newcastle fans were sent to dreamland just 3 minuets later when Muto was allowed to turn in the box, firing past the Manchester United keeper.
The scenes in the away end were spectacular, the atmosphere was fantastic and there was a real sense that Newcastle would go onto to claim their first 3 points of the season, as they headed down the tunnel for half time.
Perhaps predictably, Newcastle began to sit back in the second half. Manchester United were starting to pile on the pressure. Jose Mourinho’s side got their breakthrough when Diame gave away a sloppy free-kick, right on the edge of the area. Juan Mata, who came off the bench in first half, made not mistake, curling the ball beyond Dubravka. After Mata’s goal, the home crowd woke up and turned up the volume. Paul Pogba was starting to influence the game more, as Manchester United grew in confidence. Six minutes after Mata’s goal, the scores were level. Anthony Martial firing low to Dubravka’s right hand-side, unfortunately the Newcastle keeper couldn’t get enough of a hand on it to keep it out. The sucker punch came in the 90th minute when Alexis Sanchez climbed highest to head the ball home.
Newcastle players sunk to their knees when the final whistle blew, a heartbreaking defeat. A defeat that might just give them belief, Newcastle were excellent for around 70 minutes, the Magpies looked as though they ran out of steam. Rafa Benitez will have taken a lot of positives from the game, Newcastle showed, that with investment they could be a real handful. That is a big if. With an owner like Mike Ashley, investment does not seem to be a priority. Comparing the substitutions showed how far Newcastle had fallen under Ashley’s ownership. Benitez brought on Christian Atsu, Jacob Murphy and Joselu. While Mourinho looked to Juan Mata, Marouane Fellaini and Alexis Sanchez for inspiration.
Newcastle have an easier run of fixtures in the coming weeks, which will be a relief to all connected with the club. This may be Newcastle’s worst start to a Premier League season, however the Magpies have had one of the toughest starts to a season, playing 5 of last season’s top 6.
The 3 hour coach journey back to Newcastle was tough, a very deflated mood. One fan stated “The first half performance made me believe we can avoid relegation”. A statement that’s rather sad to hear 8 games into a season, however, this is what Mike Ashley’s ownership has done to the fans.