A battling display at home to a rejuvenated Manchester United side was not enough to stop Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford from giving caretaker boss Solskjaer a fourth win on the bounce.
Things could have been different had first Rondon and then Perez made the most of chances when clear of the Red Devils defence. Whilst a reckless challenge from Shelvey on Pogba midway through the second half could have resulted in a red card with the Newcastle playmaker lucky to get away with not even a booking.
In the end though, it was a mistake form the normally reliable Dubravka, spilling a Rashford free kick on 64 minutes that would prove costly, Lukaku slotting home the rebound having only been on the pitch for seconds. The second Manchester goal coming with Newcastle pushing forward and being hit on the break.
STARTING XI: Dubravka, Yedlin, Schar (Muto, 81), Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie, Perez (Kenedy, 69), Hayden, Diame (Shelvey, 53), Atsu, Rondon
As impressive as it was, there was a certain irony to the banner unfurled in the Gallowgate end before kick off proclaiming ‘There’s only one United’. Newcastle are now so far behind the like of Manchester United on and off the pitch it’s barely the same sport. The combined transfer fees paid for the Newcastle starting eleven wouldn’t even get you Pogba’s stud marked right thigh!
The Magpies, as always, were well organised and worked hard. You’d expect nothing less form Rafa’s men. Although Matt Ritchie, post match, said he felt the hope and fight drain out of both the side and the crowd after the first goal went in.
If only Christian Atsu could finish too. As whilst the most obvious chances for Newcastle fell to Perez and Rondon, it was Atsu who was the thorn in Manchester United side for most of the game.
After the game Rafa said his side ‘deserved more’, but conceded that ‘it was mistakes’ that cost his team. Whist Rashford’s drive bounced just in front of the Newcastle keeper it had been hit from fully 30 yards. And how Lukaku was allowed to poke home the rebound without a more robust challenge was also an issue. The break for the second could also have been better defended, but then Newcastle were chasing the game however. It happens!
With Blackburn in the FA Cup sandwiched in between this on and a tricky trip to Chelsea it looks like Rafa will have to juggle his pack significantly to try and keep the thread bare, just about good enough (we hope) squad fresh for the relegation fight ahead. Because let’s face it, we’re getting nothing in the transfer window to aid his and our cause.