Many things can happen in a year, which is probably a good thing after Manchester United made it two league defeats on the spin after being outplayed by Alan Pardew’s entertaining Newcastle United side in a one-sided encounter.
Newcastle started the game well with Demba Ba just failing to get a touch on ex-Red Danny Simpson’s cross when any contact would have tested Anders Lindegaard in goal before the keeper was forced into regulation saves from Yohan Cabaye and Chiek Tiote.
Down at the other end, United were working hard for their chances but luck wasn’t on their side. First Tim Krul parried a Nani effort straight into the path of Wayne Rooney who was unable to volley the ball in due to the ball bouncing awkwardly over him.
Patrice Evra was looking a threat down the left and he picked out Dimitar Berbatov with a cross only for the Bulgarian’s goal-bound header to take a deflection of Davide Santon striking the outside of the post before going out of play with United failing to be awarded a corner.
Due to Newcastle’s control of the game United were working on scraps in midfield but Ryan Giggs and Carrick were trying their best and a great pass by the former picked out Rooney inside the area who uncharacteristically failed to test Krul
Senegalese striker Ba was looking a constant threat and shortly after going down after a tangle in the area with Rio Ferdinand, he put Newcastle ahead. A long free-kick by Kurl was headed on by Shola Ameobi and he showed great agility in volleying it first-time past Lindegaard into the net.
It was a great finish from the striker who has certainly turned into one of the best forwards in the division since his arrival in last year’s January transfer window. The goal was the first conceded by Lindegaard in Premier League football and one he could have done little about.
Going ahead seemed to lift Newcastle’s spirits even more and they must have been in cloud nine two minutes after the restart when their lead was doubled. Ba ran forwards buying a foul from Phil Jones 25 yards from goal.
There was a sense of expectation even before Cabaye took the free-kick that something magical was going to occur. The French midfielder didn’t disappoint curling the ball into the top left-hand corner of the net. Lindegaard could only get the slightest of finger-tops onto it.
A touch challenge was now made even harder for United whose half-time team talk would have gone well out of the window with conceding a second so quickly after the restart. Berbatov was swiftly hauled off with Danny Welbeck coming on up top.
It was almost a change that got United back into the game as the striker diverted a Nani cross into the path of Rooney inside the six-yard box to volley goalwards, only for Simpson to hack off the line with the next cross from the right eluding Park at the far-post.
Sir Alex Ferguson rung the changes bringing on Javier Hernandez and Anderson but United failed to grab a consolation with Newcastle grabbing a third in injury time when Krul’s long punt was misjudged by Jones who headed into his own net past Lindegaard.
After two defeats in a row, United now face a tough trip to the Ethiad Stadium to face Manchester City in the FA Cup third round. It’s a game that in a way can’t come quickly enough as it’s just the game United need to kick their year into action once and for all.
Lindegaard: Evra, Jones, Ferdinand, Valencia, Park (Hernandez), Giggs, Carrick, Nani, Berbatov (Welbeck), Rooney (Anderson).
Newcastle fans must be hoping that Senegal get knocked out of the upcoming African Cup of Nations at the group stage as they can ill-afford to lose Demba Ba for one game based on the striker’s form in front of goal. He ran Rio Ferdinand and Phil Jones ragged, took his goal brilliantly and fully deserved to finish on the winning side.
By Adam Dennehey @ADennehey87