Newcastle crashed out of the League Cup last night losing 2-1 to Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Both sides took the opportunity to rest players and to also reintroduce players that had been out for a number of weeks previously.
Cheik Tiote built on his substitute appearance against Norwich at the weekend by starting the match whilst Fabricio Coloccini managed to get an hour under his belt after a four week absence with hamstring/thigh complaint. For the home side Wayne Rooney started for the first time in four weeks whilst Darren Fletcher continued his path to fitness after over ten months on the sidelines.
The hosts were on top from the start and created the first chance of the match with ten minutes gone. Marnick Vermijl dleivered a fine cross from the right only to see Javier Hernandez flick the ball wide of the post. Newcastle responded by creating their own half chance as Shola Ameobi knocked the ball down for Dan Gosling who sliced the ball well wide of goal.
However from then on the hosts took control of the game. Anderson forced a fine save from Rob Elliot who palmed the ball wide of the goal at the expense of a corner before Danny Welbeck forced another decent save from the third choice ‘keeper. Tom Cleverley wasted their best chance of the of the half by firing wide from ten yards out after some good play which deserved a better finish.
For all the hosts dominance it looked as though a breakthrough wouldn’t be forthcoming and United would be able to head into half time with the scores intact at 0-0. That was until Anderson wriggled free from the attention of Dan Gosling, created some room for himself and launched a fierce shot towards goal that deflected off Rob Elliot’s near post before finding the back of the net. For me Dan Gosling should have been a bit stronger in the challenge but for some Mike Williamson could have done a bit more to block the attempt at goal.
Half-time: Manchester United 1-0 Newcastle United
The home side started the second half on top once more and Javier Hernandez sent another header off target, but from then on Newcastle tried to make a fist of things and started causing their own problems.
Shola Ameobi shot straight ad David de Gea before Haris Vuckic managed to make some space in the penalty area only to see his shot creep just wide of the far post with the Spanish goalkeeper beaten. If a goal was coming, it look to all intents and purposes that it would fall in favour of the away side, and with Papiss Cisse preparing to enter the fray things looked a bit more hopeful for the 700 or so vocal travelling members of the Toon Army.
But Manchester United have made a habit over the years of hitting back when they look to be under the cosh, and they did just that on the hour mark when Tom Cleverley put the finishing touches to a fine move on the edge of the Newcastle box by stroking the ball past Rob Elliot, who had little help from the Newcastle defence.
Game over, or so it looked until a few minutes later when two substitutes combined to give the away side a lifeline. Shane Ferguson was brought on for Fabricio Coloccini whilst Cisse replaced the uninspiring Vuckic, and the pair linked up almost immediately to restore hope as Shane Ferguson crossed from the left finding Papiss Cisse at the far post leaving the Senegal international the easiest chance to nod home and end his goal drought.
The Red Devils responded though and after a loose interception from Cheik Tiote the ball was fed to Javier Hernandez who rode the last ditch challenge from Mike Williamson only to see his ferocious shot ricochet off the crossbar with Rob Elliot beaten.
But Newcastle were still looking for an equaliser. Dan Gosling fired just high and wide with de Gea rooted to the spot. Then a much improved Papiss Cisse juggled a flick on from Shola Ameobi with his back to goal. After two “keepy-uppies” the 27-year-old unleashed an audacious overhead kick which rattled off the Manchester United crossbar.
With time running out Newcastle started to lose heart and the game started to fade away. There was one further chance for the away side though as Dan Gosling spun in the area and volleyed towards goal only to see his effort fall straight into the hands of David de Gea.
And that was pretty much it…
Full-time: Manchester United 2-1 Newcastle United
It always a shame to go out of any cup competition but being honest it was always on the cards at Old Trafford. Yes sure we could have named a stronger side, but we didn’t in favour of keeping players fresh for the weekend. At the end of the day we only did what a lot of other Premier League teams had done over the previous two nights.
However there were some positives for sure. The most important one for me being Papiss Cisse and his return to some kind of form. Not only did he find the back of the net, he also looked confident again and worked for the team just like last season. Hopefully this will be the kick start he needed.
I’d also like to give an honourable mention to James Tavernier. I thought he was excellent last night and not only defended well but also provided some threat going forward, both in terms of having a pop at goal and for sending crosses into the box.
Onwards and upwards I guess. I’d have liked us to go through to the next round obviously, but seeing the draw I just wonder how far we’d have gone anyway with a match against Chelsea in the next round, and they seem to be taking this competition seriously!
Howay the lads!
Man Utd: David De Gea, Marnick Vermijl, Michael Keane, Scott Wootton, Alexander Buttner, Darren Fletcher, Tom Cleverley, Anderson, Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck, Javier Hernandez
Subs: Sam Johnstone, Jonny Evans, Nick Powell, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Joshua King, Jesse Lingard, Robbie Brady
Newcastle: Rob Elliot; James Perch, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini (c), James Tavernier; Gabriel Obertan, Cheick Tiote, Dan Gosling, Sylvain Marveaux; Haris Vuckic; Shola Ameobi
Subs: Steve Harper, Shane Ferguson, Gael Bigirimana, Vurnon Anita, Romain Amalfitano, Sammy Ameobi, Papiss Cisse