Newcastle shock Man Utd to leap out of relegation zone
Premier League, St James' Park - Newcastle 1 (Ritchie 64') Manchester United 0
Matt Richie scored a dramatic second-half winner as Newcastle stunned Manchester United to move out of the relegation zone.
Rafa Benitez’s side had slipped into the bottom three after Huddersfield’s 4-1 victory over Bournemouth earlier in the day, but Ritchie’s first goal of the season was enough to move his side up to 13th.
Manchester United created the better chances and generally looked more threatening in the first period, but the talking point of the opening 45 minutes was Craig Pawson’s decision not to give the hosts a penalty when Dwight Gayle was clipped inside the box by Chris Smalling.
Earlier in the half Newcastle’s debutant goalkeeper Martin Dubravka – on loan from Sparta Prague - had denied Anthony Martial when the Frenchman was released by Nemanja Matic.
After the restart Alexis Sanchez was presented with a golden chance when he rounded the goalkeeper but Florian Lejeune was well positioned on the goal-line to make a crucial sliding challenge to block the Chilean's effort.
And Newcastle were finally rewarded for their committed performance when Smalling conceded a free-kick for an alleged dive, the set-piece delivery found its way into the path of Ritchie who was left unmarked in the penalty area to slide the ball past a helpless David De Gea in the 64th minute.
It was a memorable debut for Dubravka who pulled off a great save to deny substitute Michael Carrick from point-blank range at the death, as Newcastle held on for a famous victory.
The loss means Manchester United fail to make up any ground on champions-elect Manchester City who remain 16 points clear at the top of the Premier League.
Why did Paul Pogba remain on the pitch for so long? The Manchester United midfielder appeared to pull up in the pre-match warm-ups before heading down the tunnel to be assessed. It was somewhat surprising to see the Frenchman appear in the starting line-up some 10 minutes later and even more baffling that he remained on the pitch for over an hour, considering he was clearly struggling. Pogba was anonymous throughout and was more of a liability than anything else.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Jonjo Shelvey (Newcastle): Dubravka produced an assured display in goal, but Shelvey was just as influential in Newcastle’s victory. The midfielder won every second ball - his work-rate was unbelievable. Not only did he fulfil his defensive duties but Shelvey also presented a threat in attack with some incisive passing. Possibly his best performance in a Newcastle shirt.
35’ - GREAT CHANCE! Spurned by Man United! A brilliant pass from Matic releases Martial. The Frenchman only has the goalkeeper to beat, you would fancy him to score, but Dubravka makes himself big and makes the save.
39’ - PENALTY SHOUT! Gayle is bundled over by Smalling just inside the box! The referee Craig Pawson has a good view of the incident but gives Man United the benefit of the doubt. Newcastle feel hard done by, and they may have a good case...
56’ - GREAT DEFENDING! Lukaku plays a beautiful reverse pass to Sanchez who rounds the goalkeeper! You would expect him to score but he delays his shot for a second which allows Lejeune to get back and he makes a crucial sliding block to deny the Chilean!
65’ - GOAL! Newcastle 1-0 Man United (Ritchie) Shelvey's free-kick is headed into the path of Ritchie who has time and space to pick his spot and slides the ball into the bottom corner, leaving De Gea helpless. What scenes at St James' Park!
77’ - OFF THE LINE! Chaos inside the Newcastle penalty box as the hosts fail to clear the corner... it falls perfectly for Martial but his shot is blocked on the line. He gets a second bite of the cherry but Newcastle get more men in front of the effort!
90’+4 – CARRICK CHANCE! Dubrvaka makes a crucial save to deny Carrick from point-blank range... and that's that! Itt's all over, Newcastle take all three points! It's their first win at home in almost FOUR months!
- Jose Mourinho has now lost six times against Rafael Benitez in all competitions; only versus Pep Guardiola (9) has he suffered more defeats as a manager.
- Manchester United have had three players booked for dives in the Premier League this season (Valencia, Herrera, Smalling), a joint high along with Bournemouth.
- Matt Ritchie's goal ended a run of 43 shots without scoring in the Premier League this season; the longest current run in the division.