A much improved Manchester United were held to a 3-3 draw at Newcastle, in one of the games of the season, after a late strike by the Newcastle full back Paul Dummett rescued a point for the hosts.
Manchester United were 2-0 up in the first half. Firstly a highly debatable penalty was awarded, and then converted by Wayne Rooney in the ninth minute. Then, in the thirty eighth minute, a classic Manchester United counter attack was finished off by Jesse Lingard, one of three changes for United, after a delicious reverse pass by Rooney. It was the first time Rooney had scored in consecutive Premier League games since November 2014 and the first time he had scored and assisted in the same game since Boxing Day 2014, against… Newcastle! (How they must be sick of the sight of him!)
One of the most crucial moments came just before half time, however, when Wijnaldum smashed in from a wayward Fellaini knock down to get Newcastle back in the game. Newcastle started the second half better than United and the visitors had goalkeeper David De Gea to thank for a save with his chest from Sissoko in the fifty second minute. Four minutes later Jesse Lingard should have had his second but skewed over when a 3-1 lead looked probable… And so Newcastle kept probing… Colback went down hoping for a penalty of his own but was not rewarded, but moments later Mitrovic was hauled down by Chris Smalling and Mike Dean pointed to the spot in Newcastle’s favour. Mitrovic stepped up himself to wrong foot De Gea. 2-2. Wijnaldum then had the ball in the net a second time, but was called offside.
Manchester United brought on Juan Mata for Ander Herrera, after 74 minutes, with the scores now level at 2-2 and five minutes later United retook the lead. However, it was the other substitute Memphis, on for Lingard earlier, who created it. His shot was blocked and it dropped for Wayne Rooney who bent a shot into the top corner. Not only did it give United a 3-2 lead but it also took him to 241 goals for the club, just eight behind Sir Bobby Charlton. Substitute Memphis then skipped down the Newcastle right again just minutes later and hung a cross in for Fellaini who headed straight at the keeper when the rest of the goal was gaping.
United had missed their chance to kill the game and they paid the price. Dummett smashed in a half cleared header in the last minute and salvaged a point for Steve McClaren’s men, ending a run of four straight defeats for Newcastle. United will take heart from a massively improved offensive performance but, despite that, they have only won two of their last eleven games in all competitions, they have only won ten in thirty Premier League away games under Van Gaal and, after West Ham won tonight, they have now slipped to sixth. Next stop for United…. Anfield on Sunday afternoon.