It was the away side who started on the front foot with Joelinton testing De Gea after just 3 minutes. Steve Bruce’s side looked lively and were causing United all sorts of problems. Almiron and Saint-Maximin were giving both full backs plenty to think about.
United were struggling. The tempo was slow and their passing had been wayward. Fernandes who’s normally the orchestrate was having a tough time in the middle of the park. Shelvey and Hayden were giving him no time on the ball and as a result Rashford and Martial had been starved of service.
Newcastle had come here full of belief that they could take something from the game and why not? As we approached the half hour mark Almiron brought a fine save out of De Gea and once again it was the away side who’d come closest to taking the lead.
For all of Newcastle’s good work moments later they found themselves a goal down. Rashford drove in to the box and shifted the ball on to his right foot before firing a low shot past Karl Darlow at his near post. With how the game had gone it was always going to take a piece of individual brilliance to open Newcastle up.
Newcastle wasted no time in trying to get themselves back in the game. Saint-Maximin who’d caused problems all half brought another good save out of De Gea and earned his side a corner.
The resulting corner wasn’t cleared and Saint-Maximin fired the loose ball past De Gea in to the back of the net! Newcastle were level and it was no more than they deserved. Once again United had conceded from a set piece!
As we approached half time United turned up the heat to try and regain the lead but the away side held out and the sides went in level at the break. United needed a big improvement if they were to take anything from this game and the players knew it.
There were no changes at HT although Martial could count himself very lucky to still be on the pitch. He’d offered nothing going forward and his work rate had been appalling. Both Clark and Lascelles had found him easy to deal with.
We didn’t have to wait long for a third goal. Daniel James had grown into the game and on the 57th minute he fired United back into the lead. He was afforded all kinds of time and space in the box and Darlow had no chance from close range. 2-1 United! The Welshman is on a good run recently for club and country and with the games coming thick and fast Solskjaer will hope it can continue.
United were back in front and for the first time they looked in control of the game. Newcastle’s energetic start and confident play seemed a long time ago and Bruce’s side were looking leggy. Greenwood had replaced the disappointing Martial and once again questions are going to be asked about the Frenchman’s display.
The home side were looking for a third goal to put the game to bed and with 15 minutes left they got it. Rashford was fouled in the box and Paul Tierney pointed to the spot.
Darlow had already saved a penalty from Fernandes earlier in the season but the Portuguese stepped up and made no mistake this time. 3-1 United and now Solskjaer could relax. This was Fernandes 15th goal of the season in all competition’s.
The game was up for Newcastle but United wanted more. Maguire has been a threat from set pieces all season and Darlow had to be alert to deny him from a Luke Shaw corner. Greenwood had looked lively since coming on and as we approached the final few minutes he saw his header go just over.
As the game ticked in to the 90th minute Solskjaer introduced academy player Shola Shoretire for his first team debut. Although there was only a few minutes remaining it was a moment the youngster will never forget. One academy graduate replaced another..
The final whistle went and United had done enough to take all 3 points. They had been far from convincing and will have to play much better than this against the likes of Chelsea and City in the coming weeks. United are now 6 points clear of Chelsea and 9 clear of Liverpool.