What a game!
Twice behind, twice seemingly dead and buried and seemingly another good footballing display ending with no reward, twice the joy and elation.
On a day when both sides came into the game under scrutiny for differing reasons, Newcastle on the back of four 1-0 losses (despite playing well in the main) and Man U for being, well, just a bit too boring in their pursuit of a top four spot, not many would have predicted what was to happen.
In a game that saw six goals including two penalties, great saves, a host of controversial decisions, a Ketsbaia style kicking of the advertising hoardings, and a last minute equalising goal from a Geordie at the Gallowgate end, those who attended the game were left pretty much breathless and certainly emotionally drained.
STARTING XI: Elliot, Dummett, Mbemba, Colo, Janmaat, Tiote (Toney, 85), Colback (Gouf 81), Sissoko, Wijnaldum, Perez (de Jong 92), Mitrovic
The game had started much as expected with Newcastle controlling much of the possession but without creating much in front of goal as Manchester United continued their current style of letting their opponents have the ball in their own half without pressing.
The difference for Man U would be their intent going forward and it was also clear that they were going to hit Newcastle with pace and numbers on the break from the outset.
Man U’s first goal would be nothing to do with their attacking prowess and the £1/4 Billion they’ve just spent on transfers, but more lumping the ball to Fellaini and getting a huge helping hand from limelight hugger Mike Dean as he awarded the Red Devils a penalty after the curly haired Belgian had headed the ball down onto Mbemba’s arm. Through the fury and disbelief of players and fans Wayne Rooney would step up and slot away the resulting spot kick on 9 minutes.
Worse was to come for the Toon as Rooney raced clear of the Janmaat who was caught out of position as Newcastle pushed forward. England's record goalscorer would then play a sublime reverse pass, almost blind, to Lingard after drawing both Newcastle centre halves into the box and then watch as his left winder slotted the ball cooly past the despairing Elliot.
Whilst Rooney was outstanding throughout the game (pains us to write it), the scoreline was to leave most in the ground in somewhat of a state of disbelief. Dominating position and areas of the pitch the atmosphere within the Newcastle section was one of almost stunned silence punctuated only by the unbridled joy of the travelling Manchester United fans who, as always, could not help but taunt Alan Shearer who was present commentating on the game for national radio.
Just before half time a glimmer of hope for United as following a slick move involving 6 Newcastle players ended with Mitrovic heading down a perfect ball to the onrushing Wijnaldum to grab his 8th goal of the season. No more than the home side deserved.
Dean was boo’d off at half time, and rightly so. The penalty decision for Manchester’s first goal was controversial to say the least. Of more annoyance would be his indecision as fans watch the big screens in the ground at half time as commentators and ex-referee’s alike all pointed to a blatant penalty that had not been given to Newcastle after Janmaat had been hauled down in the box. Typical Dean. Typical Newcastle - no big decisions for us!
Or is there…..
After a tangle between Mitrovic and Smalling on 66 minutes the unthinkable happened. Dean pointed to the penalty with Smalling being judged to have manhandled our lad. Whilst the evidence was clear that it was a penalty there was a moment of disbelief and confusion and the players in black and white organised themselves to try and draw level. The responsibility for the penalty would fall to the big man himself and Mitrovic ignored the game playing of Rooney and other Man U players to cooly slot past de Gea.
Newcastle, to be fair had been brilliant to this point. Chasing everything, slick in their passing and using for the equalising goal roared on by a crowd that had been given new hope following Wijnaldum’s goal just before half time.
Then the nerves.
Newcastle seemed unsure if they should continue to push as hard for the winner. Man U had woken up too. Would there be a winner?
The answer, or so he thought, would come from Rooney who brilliantly stuck the ball past Elliot from fully 30 yards after a Depay shot had been deflected into his path. We’ve been here before right?! The goal came on the 79th minute, and the body language of the Newcastle players seemed to show they had given all they had.
But, again with the Geordie faithful in full voice and pushing our lads on for one more chance under the SJP lights there was indeed to be one more twist. With the clock ticking to 90 minutes and after incessant pressure form the lads in black and white the ball fell to the unlikely hero figure of Paul Dummett who lashed the ball past de Gea from the edge of the box.
Pick any superlatives you like at this point. All I know is I could barely catch my breath.
Dummett himself admitted after the game ‘I didn’t know what to do’. And that about sums it up.
What is just a point will feel like so much more to all at Newcastle United. McClaren had said before the game that we were playing better than our recent results had shown. We can’t disagree. When you play well you need to pick up points and another defeat after that performance would have been bitterly hard to take.
Now onto Saturday and West Ham. What we do know is, play like that and we’ll win. Now go make it happen lads.
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