Manchester United succumbed to a 1-0 defeat against relegation strugglers Newcastle United at St James’ Park on Sunday. The Magpies rode their luck either side of Matt Ritchie’s second half strike, with United squandering a succession of good goalscoring chances.
That said, United made a shaky start to the match, and would’ve been behind after five minutes had Jonjo Shelvey been a little sharper with his shooting. An Ayoze Pérez free-kick bounced kindly for the Magpies’ midfielder, though his powerful drive was palmed away by David de Gea.
Newcastle looked surprisingly confident for a side without a win since New Year’s Day, but their weaknesses became increasingly evident as the half wore on. Alexis Sánchez was consistently afforded plenty of room on the counter-attack, and was creator-in-chief as Jesse Lingard forced a diving stop from debutant Martin Dúbravka just past the half-hour.
Three minutes later an even more egregious defensive lapse left Nemanja Matić with acres of space on the halfway line. The Serbian took full advantage, threading an inch-perfect pass through for Anthony Martial, though the Frenchman was denied by Dúbravka in the subsequent one-on-one.
United started the second half with urgency, and went close to breaking the deadlock within eight minutes; fortunately for Newcastle, Florian Lejeune was on hand to block Alexis’ effort after a darting run off the left. The Frenchman saved the Magpies again moments later, denying Alexis on the goalline with Dúbravka stranded. United should’ve been ahead.
They were soon punished for their profligacy, Newcastle taking the lead courtesy of a training ground free-kick routine just past the hour. A hopeful punt by Jonjo Shelvey was nodded on by Lejeune, laid off by Dwight Gayle, and buried in the back of the net by an unmarked Matt Ritchie. Groan.
United almost produced an instant riposte, though Ashley Young’s effort was too central and parried away by Dúbravka. A better chance still presented itself to Martial inside the final quarter-hour, though he had two consecutive efforts blocked on the line after a Chris Smalling knockdown.
With seconds left on the clock, the highly impressive Dúbravka was called into action once more, making a spectacular reaction stop to deny Michael Carrick from point-blank range. 1-0 was how it ended.