Barclays Premier League
Newcastle United vs. Manchester United
Venue: St. James’ Park
Date: Tuesday, 12 January 2016
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Manchester United were involved in an entertaining game for a change, only to drop valuable points against a Newcastle United, who came back from 2-0 and 3-2 down to draw 3-3.
Captain Wayne Rooney’s penalty and Jesse Lingard gave the visitors a comfortable position to hold, only for Georginio Wijnaldum to pull back just before half-time.
Aleksandar Mitrovic equalised from the spot before Rooney’s fine strike looked like sending United back south with a win, only for left-back Paul Dummett to spoil the party at the death.
The opening goal came after Marouane Fellaini’s header from Daley Blind’s in-swinging corner struck the outstretched arm of Chancel Mbemba, with referee Mike Dean pointing to the spot, and Rooney calmly finishing whilst sending goalkeeper Rob Elliot the wrong way.
A much clearer handball should have been given, with Ander Herrera’s whipped cross hitting the arm of Newcastle captain Fabricio Coloccini, but no penalty was awarded as Fellaini saw a shot blocked from the resulting corner.
Fellaini then found Lingard, whose weighted through ball was latched onto by Rooney, but his left-footed attempt fell just wide of the far post.
The home side produced a neat move, with Ayoze Perez teeing up Wijnaldum, but his effort was saved by the left leg of De Gea.
Sloppy play this time from Newcastle allowed Morgan Schneiderlin to knock the ball forward to Herrera, who in turn set Rooney on his way, who unselfishly reversed a pass to Lingard, who slotted the ball between the legs of Elliot for 2-0.
Coloccini was allowed to shoot from range, and he wasn’t far off target, and it was his aerial pass which was knocked down by Mitrovic moments later into the path of Wijnaldum, and the Dutchman’s side-footed volley dropped into the bottom corner to half the deficit.
Another promising counter-attacking move from the visitors saw Herrera’s decent pass played out to the right to Anthony Martial, and he ran at Dummett, before shifting the ball onto his left foot, and his strike was deflected behind.
The second half began with Moussa Sissoko turning Ashley Young inside out only to see his left-footed shot saved.
A golden opportunity fell to Lingard after Martial’s neat feet led to Herrera’s square pass, but United’s goalscorer blazed over the bar from close range.
Chris Smalling was booked for hauling down Mitrovic from a corner 10 minutes after the Lingard miss, and the striker sent De Gea the wrong way in similar fashion to the first half penalty from Rooney.
In what was becoming a frantic game, substitute Memphis cut inside onto his right foot to take aim, but his effort was blocked, only for Rooney to step forward and fire the loose ball into the top corner.
After making such a difference after coming on at the weekend against Sheffield United, Memphis produced a fine cross which was met by the head of Fellaini, but he headed straight against Elliot.
A costly miss, as United failed to deal with a cross in the final minute of normal time, with Dummett’s strike deflecting in off Smalling.
The four minutes of stoppage time came and went with a sour feeling from a United perspective.
Similar to the Wolfsburg away game back in December, when the side looked like creating and scoring plenty, they forgot how to defend, chucking away the game against a side struggling for points near the bottom.
Criticised for seeing too much of the ball without any end product this season, that is all Louis van Gaal’s side needed to do once ahead, only to fail to secure the victory despite leading 1-0, 2-0 and 3-2.
Top four looks like a long, long shot now, with another season of failure in store it seems, and a tough trip away to rivals Liverpool the last thing needed this Sunday, with a 2:05pm kick-off time at Anfield.
Manchester United: De Gea; Young, Smalling, Blind, Darmian; Schneiderlin, Fellaini; Lingard (Memphis 64), Herrera (Mata 75), Martial; Rooney.
Subs: Romero, McNair, Borthwick-Jackson, Mata, Pereira, Weir, Memphis.
Manager: Louis van Gaal
Newcastle United: Elliot; Janmaat, Mbemba, Coloccini, Dummett; Sissoko, Tiote (Toney 86), Colback (Gouffran 81), Wijnaldum; Perez (De Jong 90+2), Mitrovic.
Subs: Darlow, Sterry, Lascelles, Gouffran, Marveaux, De Jong, Toney.
Manager: Steve McLaren