This was more than just the 90 minutes, it was everything.
Perhaps that was the difference. Not in a bad way, mind you, but it seemed as though Manchester United played the game and not the occasion, while Newcastle United were quite rightly caught up in it.
There’s something special brewing on Tyneside, a club united in more than just name.
The tide has turned, a once fractured and disillusioned fanbase is now right behind the whole club, not just the eleven men on the pitch. It’s a beautiful sight, and what captured those raw emotions most were the flag displays towards the end of the game.
Even losing 2-0 then, it was a show of defiance, support, and pride in their club and city.
The Geordies brought their heart and soul to the capital, from the celebrations in Trafalgar Square to the clean-up operation afterward—Newcastle supporters were a credit to themselves and the club they represent.
This final felt different.
It wasn’t doom and gloom when the final whistle blew, more of a feeling of pride and a sense of this being the start of something. Newcastle will be back, and they won’t have to wait twenty-four years this time.
The Magpies were bright in the early stages but it was Manchester United who took the lead when the clock hit 33. Casemiro rose to head home from Luke Shaw’s free-kick. Bruno Guimaraes was adjudged to have fouled Marcus Rashford for the free-kick, a very soft decision. There was a VAR check but the Brazilian was ruled to be narrowly onside.
Manchester United extended their lead six minutes later as Marcus Rashford combined well with Wout Weghorst before driving into the box and seeing his shot deflect off Sven Botman before looping over Loris Karius in the Newcastle goal.
Alexander Isak came on at halftime in a bud to break down what was a stubborn Manchester United defense. Unfortunately for Newcastle, their struggles in front of goal since they returned from the World Cup break continued.
Bruno Fernandes could have made it three in the closing stages but for a good save by Karius.
It wasn’t quite the redemption story many had billed for Karius, though, but he made some decent saves to keep his side in the game. He will now go back to the football wilderness, only this time not as bruised and battered.
This defeat will be a sore one—losing in a final is never easy and this could go one of two ways for Newcastle.
This could ignite a fire in the squad to finish the season strongly... or it could derail what has been an impressive season. Eddie Howe will be doing all he can to make sure it isn’t the latter.
The hurt will linger for a while but this isn’t a one-off and that’s the feeling Newcastle supporters are clinging to. They will be back soon, and of course, they won’t be home for tea!