Belfast Telegraph

Rooney brace but Manchester United slip in thriller against Toon

Newcastle 3-3 Man United

By Mark Ogden

Louis van Gaal might want to go back to being bored by Manchester United after this. The excitement of a 3-3 draw does not last long when your team has thrown victory away in the final minute.

Paul Dummett's deflected strike in the 90th minute earned Newcastle a deserved point at St James' Park, but the visitors had victory in the bag more than once and blew it each time. Two goals by Wayne Rooney and one from Jesse Lingard had twice given United the lead, but they spurned a handful of chances.

After finally finding their scoring touch, United could not keep them out at the other end, however, and they now go to Anfield on Sunday having won just one of their last eight league games.

Van Gaal may have confessed to being "bored" by his own team's football at times this season, but Newcastle went into this game having failed to score in any of their last four outings.

Having been so poor against Sheffield United at the weekend, though, Van Gaal tried to inject pace into his team by dropping Juan Mata in favour of England Under-21 winger Lingard.

United have become a team with fragile confidence and the lift of Rooney's opening goal after just nine minutes was crucial to their subsequent dominance.

Newcastle were rightly angered by Mike Dean's decision to hand the visitors the penalty. Daley Blind's corner had evaded Chancel Mbemba at the far post, leaving Marouane Fellaini to head back across the six-yard box. The ball struck Mbemba's outstretched left arm, prompting Dean to point to the spot.

Even United's players did not appeal, but Rooney was not going to pass up such a fortuitous chance to score.

It seemed only a matter of time before United doubled their lead. Ander Herrera saw his shot deflected wide and Rooney spurned a golden chance on 27 minutes.

David de Gea was then called into action for the first time a minute later, when the Spaniard produced a reflex save to deny Georginio Wijnaldum.

But United continued to dominate and made it 2-0 on 38 minutes when Rooney teed up Lingard to score from a tight angle. The goal was made by Herrera's pass to Rooney, who held the ball up for Lingard.

But United failed to hold out until half-time, with Wijnaldum scoring on 42 minutes with a volley from Aleksandar Mitrovic's knockdown. Fellaini should have cleared Fabricio Coloccini's ball into the box, but the Belgian allowed Mitrovic to beat him to the ball, leaving Wijnaldum with a simple chance.

United began to sit too deep, despite the impressive performances of Rooney, Lingard and Anthony Martial further forward. Morgan Schneiderlin was left to hold the fort in midfield, but the Frenchman flourished with the responsibility and was one of the best performers.

Lingard should have eased the burden on Schneiderlin on 56 minutes, though, when interplay between Martial and Herrera saw him receive the ball unmarked 10 yards out.

But with the goal at his mercy, Lingard leant back and sent a curling right-foot shot over the crossbar. It proved to be his final contribution, with Van Gaal replacing him with Memphis Depay seven minutes later.

Newcastle sensed United's anxiety. They continued to press for an equaliser and they were given the opportunity to level the scores when Dean pointed to the spot after Chris Smalling had wrestled Mitrovic to the ground while defending a corner.

It was a stupid foul by Smalling, who allowed the Serbian forward to drag him into a physical scrap, but Dean was correct and Mitrovic scored the penalty.

Rooney then restored United's lead with a stunner from 20 yards, capitalising on Dummett's poor clearance, but the defender made amends at the death.

Newcastle should have been dead and buried by then and United only have themselves to blame.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph