Newcastle United 1-0 Manchester United
After the 5-0 humbling at the King Power last weekend, United had the opportunity to restore some pride at St James Park this afternoon with the visit of an out of form Manchester United.
And whilst Andy Carroll would get the most minutes on the pitch in a single game this season it would be another Geordie who would play his way into local folklore. An absolute thunderb*st*rd from Matty Longstaff on 72 minutes the difference between two poor but fully committed sides.
Running onto a cut back form Willems, after some great work from Saint-Maximin, the 19 year old lad from North Shields hit an absolute beauty past de Gea.
What a Premier League debut for the lad to secure Newcastle United three points and move the Magpies out of the bottom three and within a point of Manchester United.
There had a starting birth for both Longstaff brothers with Matty gaining a starting birth as Hayden starts his ban.
There was also a place in the starting line up for Saint-Maximin, Willems, Yedlin and Clark as Bruce searched for a formation and personnel to lift his side out of the bottom three. There was also the welcome sight of Dwight Gayle on the bench. Not something I’d hoped to write this season.
STARTING XI: Dubravka, Yedlin, Schar, Lascelles, Clark, Willems, Longstaff, Longstaff, Saint-Maximin (Atsu, 82), Almiron (Krafth, 90), Joelinton (Carroll, 56)
And it was Newcastle who started the brighter of the two sides, with Allan Saint-Maximin making a tremendous early burst forward to find Almiron who’s cross was blocked for a corner. Indeed the Frenchman looked the most likely of anyone in black and white to unlock the Red Devils in the early stages as his direct approach certainly kept Man U on their toes.
Newcastle’s plan would certainly be more familiar to the players, reverting to a style and formation what was deployed to often under Rafa, as a back unit at least.
This would mean United settling back into a defensive shape and letting Manchester United push onto them.
Pace on the break was key. And on 27 minutes Matty Longstaff almost made last nights dream come true. A good break from Joelinton on the right eventually found its way to the Newcastle youngster who’s drive from 25 yards dipped onto the top of the bar with de Gea well beaten.
Moments later it was Fabian Schar’s chance to go close with his flicked header just clearing the bar from a corner.
Manchester United were then lucky to escape a red card just after the half hour. Daniel James stamping down on Sean Longstaff’s calf with Mike Dean only given the winger a yellow and the VAR official stating there was ‘not enough force’ for it to be deemed a red. Hmmm.
It could also be argued an arm in Schar’s face in the Manchester United penalty box from Young should have been looked at, although that would have been very harsh.
The usual Almiron chance would come and go on 38 minutes. A wonderful through ball setting the Paraguayan clean through but his first touch would allow Maguire the time to get back and make a block on a shot that looked like it may have been going wide anyway. One day kidda.
As the half moved to a close there was certainly plenty of encouragement for Bruce’s men who looked to have the greater threat even if not as much of the ball.
With seconds to go to half time the biggest chance of the game. Maguire 4 yards out, totally unmarked, heading wide when all he had to do was get any kind of decent contract on the ball. A huge let off for United.
The introduction of Andy Carroll for the hard working Joelinton on 55 minutes seemed to lift an already enthusiastic Geordie crowd yet further.
In truth Newcastle were on the ropes by then. What was needed was a hero to step forward.
And they got just that on 72 minutes. Another purposeful run forward by Saint-Maximin allowed the black and white midfield to push forward in a rare foray. The winger was able to find Willems who’s cut back fully 20 yards out was thundered first time by Matty Longstaff and into the corner of de Gea’s goal. Unstoppable. 1-0 Newcastle United.
The question would be, could the Magpies hang on?!
Sitting deeper and deeper it was certainly backs to the walls.
But the lads hung on.
A night to remember for Matty Longstaff and for Steve Bruce, who’d never beaten the side he’d played for in all those years.
And whilst this Manchester United side are a shadow of anything we’ve seen at recent years, the points are as welcome as unexpected.