Manchester United vs Newcastle United. Premier League.
Match report and free highlights as Manchester United move back to second in the Premier League; Allan Saint-Maximin cancels out Marcus Rashford opener but Newcastle stay three points above the relegation zone
Monday 22 February 2021 06:11, UK
Manchester United collected their first Premier League victory in three games as Bruno Fernandes' penalty secured a 3-1 win over Newcastle at Old Trafford.
Following draws with Everton and West Brom, United had fallen 10 points adrift of leaders Manchester City, which was extended further on Sunday when Pep Guardiola's side won at Arsenal.
Marcus Rashford broke the deadlock when he found the near post (30) but Newcastle deservedly levelled after Allan Saint-Maximin's half volley flashed beyond David de Gea six minutes later.
United looked lethargic following their Europa League exertions in the opening period, but Dan James struck (57) to restore their advantage before Fernandes' penalty with 15 minutes remaining settled matters.
The result enabled Manchester United to move into second place again following Leicester's win at Aston Villa while Newcastle stay in 17th, three points above the relegation zone.
Man Utd: de Gea (7), Wan Bissaka (6), Lindelof (6), Maguire (7), Shaw (8), Fred (6), Matic (6), James (8), Bruno Fernandes (7), Rashford (7), Martial (6).
Subs: Mata (n/a), Greenwood (6), Shoretire (n/a).
Newcastle: Darlow (7), Krafth (5), Lascelles (7), Clark (6), Lewis (7), Willock (6), Hayden (6), Shelvey (6), Almiron (7), Joelinton (6), Saint-Maximin (7).
Subs: Gayle (n/a), Fraser (6), Murphy (n/a).
Man of the match: Daniel James.
Newcastle, who were again without 10-goal top-scorer Callum Wilson because of a hamstring injury, had won just one of their previous 35 away league games at Old Trafford.
It was Steve Bruce's 850th game as a manager, back where he enjoyed so much success as a player under Sir Alex Ferguson, and his side grew in confidence following a high-tempo start.
After De Gea punched clear Jonjo Shelvey's cross from Joe Willock's short corner, Joelinton forced the United 'keeper into a fingertip save via a deflection off Victor Lindelof.
Miguel Almiron was a lively presence throughout the opening half hour and the Paraguay midfielder was next to spring De Gea into action with a long-range drive but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side went ahead in the 30th minute through a fine Rashford strike.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made five changes to Manchester United's line-up following their Europa League win against Real Sociedad as Newcastle arrived at Old Trafford.
David de Gea, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw, Nemanja Matic and Anthony Martial came into the starting line-up, while Newcastle-born 17-year-old Shola Shoretire joined fellow teenager Amad Diallo on the bench.
Scott McTominay, Donny van de Beek and Edinson Cavani missed out through injury against Newcastle, who brought Joelinton in for Dwight Gayle.
Having collected the ball on the left touchline, he nutmegged Emil Krafth and darted towards the box. The Newcastle right-back recovered to meet him in the area, only for Rashford to cut past him and unleash a thumping low effort past Karl Darlow at his near post.
The hosts continued to struggle from set-pieces, however, and Newcastle exposed that soft underbelly in the 36th minute.
Newcastle took another short corner and Willock sent in a cross that Harry Maguire headed into the path of Saint-Maximin to lash past De Gea on the half volley. It was the fifth time De Gea had conceded in the Premier League from the last seven shots on target, as Newcastle reached the interval deservedly level.
The visitors had just 27 per cent possession in the opening period, but still mustered more shots on target than their opponents - four compared to two - to highlight their greater efficiency. There had been very little initial reaction from the hosts with De Gea alert to smother another Saint-Maximin strike five minutes after the restart.
But Manchester United restored their lead moments after Joelinton was withdrawn as Nemanja Matic's pass inside was poked by Fernandes into the path of James, who found the near post to notch his fifth goal of the season.
From there, the hosts grew in confidence and their superior quality began to show. Fernandes went close when his flick-on from Luke Shaw's corner just evaded the far post, but the Portugual midfielder would not be denied his customary goal.
Referee Paul Tierney was well placed to spot a foul by Willock inside the box on Rashford following a lovely drag back inside the on-loan Arsenal midfielder.
Fernandes missed in the reverse fixture from 12 yards at St James' Park, but he stepped up again for the spot-kick and slotted home low to the left as Darlow fell to the right.
Maguire came close to a late fourth when he rose to meet another Shaw set-piece but Darlow was equal to it as Solskjaer's side eventually returned to winning ways with relative ease.
Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told BT Sport: "We had to up the tempo a little bit, especially in the last third and I felt we managed to do that. It is always difficult to get going after an away game in Europe.
"Even though we dominated possession and had a lot of the ball we couldn't create many opportunities. I felt in the second half we found our positions better.
"We can't control any other team, we just have to focus on ourselves and be the best possible Manchester United every game. Things happen and there are many surprises in football."
Solskjaer said on James' display: "He never disappeared. He has been working hard behind the scenes and always been available. He is always a player you can use in different areas with his energy and pace.
"We work with him, we try to help everyone but of course Dan came from the Championship, he hit a few goals in the first games and it is bound to take some energy from you. He has knuckled down and really worked to get back to full fitness but maybe more so confidence, to believe in himself."
Newcastle boss Steve Bruce told BT Sport: "It's the second goal isn't it? A wicked deflection and a bit of luck and the third one, it's a very soft penalty. For 60 minutes we gave as good as we got.
"We were disrupted when we lost Joelinton, it's difficult to replace him but I was pleased with an hour. When you come here you have got to be good for 90 minutes. There were pleasing signs but you have got to turn pleasing signs into results.
"We will have a look at the goalkeeper, he will be disappointed to be beaten at the near post for the first goal. It's been a difficult week but we have games coming up where we think we can take points.
"We are a threat now, we are trying to be higher up the pitch. It will take some getting used to because we have played a certain way for a while.
"I am convinced we will be safe, there are six or seven teams looking over their shoulders. We need to win a few games. We have to get to that magical point mark - whatever it is."
Solskjaer said Wales international James showed his 'X-factor' in Manchester United's Europa League win over Real Sociedad in midweek, and the player responded to that glowing account here with a vibrant second-half display.
His battle with Jamal Lewis was very watchable, and it was a sign of how well the Newcastle left-back played in the opening period that United targeted the opposite flank in the build-up to James' goal.
But once the 23-year-old restored his side's lead with his sixth strike for club and country in his last nine games, his tail was up.
His four open-play crosses were more than any other team-mate while he also won four fouls for his side as he made another strong case for regular starts in the Premier League.
James has scored five goals in 13 games for Manchester United this season, one more than he managed in 46 games across all competitions last season.
Manchester United host Real Sociedad in the Europa League round-of-32 second leg on Thursday (kick-off 8pm) before visiting Chelsea on Super Sunday; coverage starts at 4pm on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event with kick-off at 4.30pm.
Newcastle host Wolves next Saturday at 8pm on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event; coverage starts at 7.45pm.