Newcastle United blew Manchester United away last night and ran out comfortable 3-0 winners against the reigning Champions on a blustery evening at St James’ Park.
Goals from Demba Ba, Yohan Cabaye and an own goal from Phil Jones did the damage as Newcastle recorded their first win over the Red Devils since 2001.
Howls of derision could be seen from some fans when the team news was announced. It seemed that some were unhappy over the inclusion of Shola Ameobi at the expense of Hatem Ben Arfa, with one fan going as far as saying that he wasn’t watching the game due to the team selection. I hope he stuck to his word as he’ll have missed one of the only times we’ve outplayed Sir Alex Ferguson’s men in recent years.
Newcastle started brightly and created the first opening from a Ryan Taylor cross although Demba Ba missed the ball completely. Yohan Cabaye was next to have a pop after some neat interplay on the edge on the Manchester United penalty area although his shot was saved by Anders Lindegaard. The bright start had St James’ Park rocking and the fans reacted to the way that the team had started the match.
Inevitably Manchester United came back into the match and could have taken the lead. Nani’s shot was very nearly spilled into the path of Wayne Rooney by Tim Krul but the Dutchman managed to rescue the situation. In form Dimitar Berbatov hit the woodwork on 15 minutes when his deflected header rebounded off the post and out for a corner.
Howard Webb tried his best to annoy the home fans by, rather predictably, giving a string of decisions in favour of the away side. I’d like to say that it was a surprise, but most people predicted it. Funny eh? Included in that string of decisions was the refusal to award Newcastle a penalty on 25 minutes after Rio Ferdinand upended Demba Ba. I’ve seen the replays and every one of them makes it look like a penalty, however Webb wasn’t convinced and he waved away the claims.
Ba was to get his own back just six minutes later courtesy of a bit of the much criticised ‘long ball’ that some fans seem to detest. Tim Krul’s long punt upfield was nodded on by Shola Ameobi into the path of Demba Ba who hooked the ball into the side netting from 12 yards out. It was a magnificent finish that gave Newcastle United the half-time lead.
Half-time: Newcastle 1-0 Manchester United
I was poised for Manchester United to come out all guns blazing in the second half having had a good blast of the hairdryer treatment from Sir Alex Ferguson at half-time. It wasn’t to be though and instead Newcastle extended the lead just two minutes into the second period.
Demba Ba dropped deep and ran at the Manchester United defence drawing Phil Jones into a tackle 25 yards from goal that he was always second favourite to win. Yohan Cabaye lined up the free kick and sent an inch perfect shot past Lindegaard and over the goal line courtesy of the crossbar. Whilst the net didn’t end up bulging, the ball was clearly over the line and the goal was rightly awarded.
Manchester United then threatened to pull a goal back and went close to doing so through Wayne Rooney who saw his prod at goal spectacularly saved in the line by Danny Simpson. However aside from that the red United rarely threatened and Newcastle remained the better team despite sitting back a bit more and operating more defensively.
It got better in stoppage time. One of those much maligned long balls confused Phil Jones who somehow managed to knee the ball past his own ‘keeper and into the Gallowgate net to cap a rather fantastic night that was, unfortunately, missed by some as mentioned earlier.
Full-time: Newcastle 3-0 Manchester United
It’s hard to describe the feelings after this game. Obviously elation is the primary one as I never seen this result coming. In fact I don’t think many people saw that coming. Perhaps some thought we may sneak a win, but to do it so comfortably was beyond my expectations.
There was an awful lot of excellent performances out there in black and white shirts. Davide Santon showed why he was so highly rated as a youngster (well he’s only 21 now, but you know what I mean) and Mike Williamson combined with Fabricio Coloccini to make a solid partnership at the back. Not back for a “Championship standard” defender.
Moving up and we have Yohan Cabaye and Cheik Tiote who both played extremely well. Cabaye showed the class that I was raving about in the summer and Tiote seemed to be returning to his best form after his injury lay off. The pair of them didn’t let Manchester United settle and the goal from Cabaye was sublime. Inch perfect in fact.
Moving up again, and Demba Ba was just Demba Ba. He bossed and bullied Rio Ferdinand all night and never gave the Manchester United defence an inch. I just hope he checks his pockets before he heads off to Africa. If Rio disappears for a few weeks we know he’s still in there!
Most importantly it was the team ethic tonight that brought us through. They all worked for one another tonight and there was a determination that I failed to see in the Liverpool match which was nice to see once more. We also played some decent stuff at times and I credit Alan Pardew for getting his tactics spot on. He exploited the weaknesses of Manchester United and it paid off.
Next up we have an FA Cup game against Blackburn at the weekend. It’s another home game which gives us a chance to get another win under our belts and gain a little bit more confidence, if the lads need it after the win last night. Victories like this don’t come along too often so it’s important that we enjoy it while we can.
Howay the lads!
Newcastle: Tim Krul; Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Davide Santon; Ryan Taylor, Cheick Tiote, Yohan Cabaye, Jonas Gutierrez; Shola Ameobi, Demba Ba
Subs: Steve Harper, James Perch, Haris Vuckic, Gabriel Obertan, Hatem Ben Arfa, Sammy Ameobi, Leon Best
Manchester United: Anders Lindegaard; Antonio Valencia, Phil Jones, Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra (c); Nani, Michael Carrick, Ryan Giggs, Park Ji-Sung; Dimitar Berbatov, Wayne Rooney
Subs: David De Gea, Rafael Da Silva, Jess Lingard, Anderson, Paul Pogba, Danny Welbeck, Javier Hernandez