17 mins Dwight
Gayle received the ball down
the Newcastle left on halfway and played an excellent pass infield to
Matty Longstaff, who was lurking in space infield. He clipped it forward to
Joelinton who did well to keep possession outside the left side of the six yard
box before feeding it back to Longstaff. He took
a touch and found the corner of the Stretford End net from 10 yards.
The midfielder's celebration initially seemed inappropriate ("town
full of smack heads" did come into our mind from days past), but young
hipsters soon provided the explanation that he was aping US basketballer
D'Angelo Russell and his "ice in my veins" party piece.
Andreas Pereira found
Anthony Martial in
space on the edge of the Magpies box and the home forward
hit a low shot towards the near post. Martin Dubravka dived to his right and got a full
hand to the ball, but was unable to keep it out.
poor pass out to Fabian Schar from Dubravka was mis-controlled by the Swiss
defender, who then compounded his error by passing straight to Mason Greenwood.
He promptly fired a shot goalwards that flicked off Federico Fernandez and in off the
Wan-Bissaka drifted past Jetro Willems on Manchester's right
flank and crossed for Marcus Rashford, who
towered above Schar and headed in to the top corner of the net.
Half time: Red Devils 3 Magpies 1
51 mins An
awful attempt at a back pass by Sean Longstaff from some distance outside his
box went straight to Martial, leaving him
one-on-one with Dubravka. The Slovakian goalkeeper went to ground leaving the
French striker with the
easy task of chipping the ball over his legs and into the unguarded goal.
Full time: Red Devils 4 Magpies 1
Steve Bruce said:
half an hour, we gave as good as we’ve got, created the better openings, and
then, all of a sudden, we’ve gifted them the first goal and the second one.
And when you come here, you can’t make those mistakes.
"That is the biggest disappointment
we all feel. You can't make that many mistakes here. It is disappointing. The
reason we have got a few results is the way we have defended. We made far too
many individual errors today.
"You are never surprised about the
character of Manchester United. That is the disappointment. No player wants to
make the mistakes we did.
"We managed to keep it respectable, and with that, I thought they showed a
bit of resilience in the last half hour. But, that fifteen minutes before half
time was bizarre.
"When you come here the one thing you can't do is gift Manchester United.
I know it's Christmas, but we gave away more goals in half an hour than we
have in three months.
"I don't think United can believe it.
It's a harsh lesson for us that you cannot make the mistakes we have just
made. We stuck at it, but it was a tough afternoon for us.
"It’s a ridiculous schedule (to
play again in less than 48 hours) but it’s
the way it is. We’ll have to get ready and prepared for Saturday which is a
big game again.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said:
"(Scott) McTominay has done his
ligament in the knee, probably. I don't know how bad it is. The boy has
got the biggest heart of the lot. We'll find out tomorrow how it is.
"Mason (Greenwood) is a great striker of the ball. You know he is going
to hit the target more times than not. The way he strikes it is nice to
see and he is so unfazed by whatever happens.
"The three of them are a handful when we can get the space we did today.
These boys will never give up, this club knows that towards the end we
can nick a point or even three from losing positions.
not going to see the best of Mason for a couple of years. He's learning,
growing as a human being, he'll grow more and more.
"Marcus (Rashford) sprung on the scene the same age and you see
more maturity in his game.
"You saw the intent straight away. Newcastle made mistakes but we made
them make them by pressing and we made it hard for them."
Newcastle once again wore their unfavoured
white socks to avoid a clash with the hosts.
The Magpies conceded three goals in the first half of a competitive game
for the first time since a 1-5 Premier League loss at Crystal Palace back in
Matty Longstaff scored his second Premier League goal of the season -
both of which came against Manchester United. He became the first Magpie to
find net home and away against the Red Devils in the same season since Demba Ba in
Having won the reverse game 1-0 at SJP, Newcastle once again proved unable to
complete what would have been their first league double over the Red Devils
since the 1930/31 season.
Home player Scott McTominay was booked for lunging at Sean Longstaff after
just 24 seconds.
Steve Bruce came up against one of his old clubs for the fifth time in
seven games (Villa manager, Sheffield United manager, Burnley apprentice,
Palace manager, Manchester United player).
His eleven appearances in the visiting dugout at Old Trafford have resulted in ten losses and a draw.
NUFC Boxing Day Record - last 20:
2019/20: Manchester United (a) lost 1-4
2018/19: Liverpool (a) lost 0-4
2016/17: Sheffield Wednesday (h) lost 0-1
2015/16: Everton (h) lost 0-1
2014/15: Manchester United (a) lost 1-3
2013/14: Stoke City (h) won 5-1
2012/13: Manchester United (a) lost 3-4
2011/12: Bolton Wanderers (a) won 2-0
2010/11: Manchester City (h) lost 1-3
2009/10: Sheffield Wednesday (a) drew 2-2
2008/09: Wigan Athletic (a) lost 1-2
2007/08: Wigan Athletic (a) lost 0-1
2006/07: Bolton Wanderers (a) lost 1-2
2005/06: Liverpool (a) lost 0-2
2004/05: Blackburn Rovers (a) drew 2-2
2003/04: Leicester City (a) drew 1-1
2002/03: Bolton Wanderers (a) lost 3-4
2001/02: smoggies (h) won 3-0
2000/01: Leeds United (h) won 2-1
1999/00: Liverpool (h) drew 2-2
Halfway - 19 games in, last 10 PL seasons:
2019/20 25 pts, 10th (scored 18,
17 pts, 15th (scored 14, conceded 26)
2017/18 18 pts, 15th (scored 19, conceded 29)
2015/16 17 pts, 18th (scored 19, conceded 34)
2014/15 26 pts, 9th (scored 22, conceded 28)
2013/14 33 pts, 8th (scored 29, conceded 24)
2012/13 20 pts, 15th (scored 23, conceded 30)
2011/12 30 pts, 7th (scored 26, conceded 25)
2010/11 22 pts, 13th (scored 28, conceded 29)
2008/09 22 pts, 12th (scored 25, conceded 27)
Magpies v MUFC @ Old Trafford - Premier League era:
2019/20 lost 1-4 M.Longstaff
2018/19 lost 2-3 Kenedy, Muto
2017/18 lost 1-4 Gayle
2015/16 drew 0-0
2014/15 lost 1-3 Cisse(pen)
2013/14 won 1-0 Cabaye
2012/13 lost 3-4 Perch, og(Evans), Cisse
2012/13 lost 1-2 Cisse (LC)
2011/12 drew 1-1 Ba(pen)
2010/11 lost 0-3
2008/09 drew 1-1 Martins
2007/08 lost 0-6
2006/07 lost 0-2
2005/06 lost 0-2
2004/05 lost 1-2 Ambrose
2003/04 drew 0-0
2002/03 lost 3-5 Bernard, Shearer, Bellamy
2001/02 lost 1-3 Shearer
2000/01 lost 0-2
1999/00 lost 1-5 og(Berg)
1998/99 drew 0-0
1997/98 drew 1-1 Andersson
1996/97 drew 0-0
1995/96 lost 0-2
1994/95 lost 0-2
1993/94 drew 1-1 Cole
Having made a North West
passage from China (and tweeted photos of his Christmas tree and his dogs on
it's a fair bet that Rafa Benitez found time between playing cards and
eating chocolate to switch his telly on around 5.30pm on Boxing Day.
What unfolded 50 miles away from his Wirral home though may have left him
wondering whether he'd actually stumbled on footage beamed in from some
parallel universe, or perhaps a new game show.
It certainly wasn't Premier League football as he'd known it less than eight
months before and as for the team he formerly managed, their off-the-cuff
approach probably caused him to have a seizure.
Exactly a year earlier he'd returned "home" to Anfield with his
Newcastle side, leaving 90 minutes later with only the sympathy of his
former fans as the hosts scored four goals without reply and the visitors
remained in their own half for the most part; rigidly drilled in the task of
Fast forward 12 months and it's unclear what game plan successor Steve
Bruce had for returning to his own stamping ground - but it probably didn't
include defending of the suicidal variety he witnessed....
For a side scoring less than a goal a game so far this season, there's a
certain irony in Newcastle creating two for their opponents, plus aiding and
abetting in the other two the home team bagged.
A combination of injuries, fitness concerns and the hectic run of fixtures
meant that lineup changes were anticipated, but consigning Andy Carroll, Jonjo Shelvey and Isaac Hayden
to the bench proved to be too much of a sea change after an initial burst of
In came Dwight Gayle and the Longstaffs - plus Jetro Willems for the injured
Paul Dummett - and in the most frenzied of starts, the black and whites
looked absolutely lethal on the counter attack.
Both Miguel Almiron and Gayle had put credible shooting chances wide before
Matty Longstaff opened the scoring as he had against the same opponents at
Gallowgate back in October.
And with Joelinton having his most effective passage of play since signing,
showing measured aggression and throwing himself towards the ball, Newcastle
looked both fluid and dangerous in complete contrast to their leaden-footed
showing at Turf Moor a fortnight before.
After the fleeting ecstasy of going ahead here for the third successive
season, reality quickly intervened and the side with the best Boxing Day
record over-ran the one with the worst.
Sadly though there was a rather large area of the field uninhabited by black
and white shirts; roughly the size and shape of the centre circle. And once
Solskjaer's team cottoned on to our 5-0-5 pattern, their offensive trio willingly filled that
void and raced upfield towards Dubravka time and again.
The Magpies custodian won't recall the equaliser with any fondness, while Fabian Schar
had a look away now moment soon after in another calamitous and
self-inflicted wound. And by the time the ball nestled in the Newcastle net
for the third time in 24 minutes it was game over - and we were back to the
damage limitation of not killing the goal difference like we had at
Disaster then struck again soon after the break when Sean Longstaff's weak back pass
set Martial in for 4-1.
The floodgates threatened to open fully at that point but thankfully once
Martial had hit the post rather than complete his hat-trick, the home side took
their foot off the gas and stuck at four.
With the outcome beyond question by then, both
sides seemed content to save themselves for Saturday's games, making
substitutions to rest key players. The black and whites had created absolutely nothing in the opposition half after
the interval and finished with Christian Atsu and DeAndre Yedlin
flanking Joelinton in an irrelevant front trio.
So, for the third season in a row a lead at Old Trafford was squandered
before conceding three or more goals. But this time the inability to hold
onto the advantage and shut up shop against a faltering side was
particularly exasperating, as was our unwillingness to do anything about it.
Despite the price tags of the home players, form suggested that this wasn't
quite the foregone conclusion that the footballing runes suggested; the
averageness of Solksjaer's side on Tyneside earlier in the season on show
once again more recently in a deserved defeat at Watford.
Ultimately though, the side fielded lacked experience, guile and leadership
in crucial areas. This was certainly more entertaining than than losing 0-4
to Liverpool a year ago, but the outcome was only too predictable; heading
back across the M62 empty-handed once again.
In no way was Bruce's task today comparable to that of Rafa 12 months ago,
when 15 places and a whopping 31 points separated us from the league
leaders. At kick-off here it was only goal difference.
That day Ayoze Perez and Salomon Rondon were benched and Joselu and Muto started at
Anfield. Similarly, many of those on the bench today didn't look to have any
chance of being brought on - although we'd have been warming Hayden up at
1-2 to try and plug that gaping hole in midfield.
Newcastle remain in the top half of the table after completing half of the
season's fixtures, but that situation may not last for much longer, with two
testing home games over the coming days. Those excused duty today really do
need to be at it on Saturday.
That means there's no time to dwell on our latest post-Christmas hangover,
but today encapsulated much of what we've seen this
season: occasional moments of joy amongst ongoing mediocrity.