Belfast Telegraph

United held in Newcastle stalemate

Ryan Giggs passed up a glorious opportunity to ease Manchester United nine points clear in the race for the Barclays Premier League title as they recorded a goalless draw at Newcastle.

The 37-year-old fired wide with the goal at his mercy 21 minutes from time as the Magpies edged closer to safety with a hard-earned point.

Newcastle keeper Tim Krul made fine first-half saves from Javier Hernandez, who was then booked for diving amid loud penalty appeals in injury time, but the home side had their own chances with debutant Stephen Ireland going close with a second-half volley.

The visitors tested Krul after just two minutes when he was forced to block Hernandez's effort, and the Dutchman was delighted to see full-back Jose Enrique get his body into the line of the Mexican's goal-bound injury-time shot.

Krul made another fine save from Wayne Rooney - who made his return from suspension - after he burst through on 19 minutes, although referee Lee Probert clearly did not spot his intervention as he awarded only a goal-kick.

Newcastle might have taken the lead a minute before the break when Joey Barton picked out Peter Lovenkrands inside the penalty area with a teasing right-wing cross.

The Dane did not realise how much time he had and may have been surprised that the ball reached him at all, but he planted his header harmlessly wide.

Krul was grateful to see Giggs head straight at him from Nani's 51st-minute cross, although Shola Ameobi was unable to trouble Edwin van der Sar any further with a looping effort seconds later.

United should have been in front with 69 minutes gone when Patrice Evra carved his way into the box to set up Giggs, but the veteran midfielder contrived to fire wide.

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