Manchester United comprehensively defeated Newcastle United 4-1 at Old Trafford to provide plenty of festive cheer for the fans on Boxing Day.
The Reds fell behind to Matty Longstaff, scorer of the winner in the reverse fixture at St James’ Park earlier this season, but replied magnificently. Anthony Martial equalised before Mason Greenwood thundered Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men in front.
Marcus Rashford capped a fine spell of attacking play by heading in a third and there was more to come after the break when Martial punished a sloppy backpass by Sean Longstaff for number four. Steve Bruce’s side may have contributed to their own downfall but this was a perfect response to the disappointment at Watford last weekend.
Anthony Martial hails his equalising strike in the first half.
Scott McTominay set the tone for a feisty occasion by collecting a booking inside 24 seconds, the fastest of the season, but, aside from a Rashford free-kick that clipped behind off the wall, the visitors enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges.
Miguel Almiron sliced off target before Dwight Gayle spurned a glorious chance to leave his manager Bruce with his head in his hands. Gayle and Joelinton bundled their way all the way through the Reds’ defence to leave the former Crystal Palace striker with a one-on-one opening, only to smash his finish over the bar. The warning was not heeded, though, as the Magpies took the lead a couple of minutes later.
Fred was dispossessed in midfield and Matty Longstaff was able to feed the ball forward to Joelinton, who held it up before returning the pass to the youngster, lurking undetected on the edge of the box. The low drive beat David De Gea for his second Premier League goal of his career, both coming against Ole’s Reds.
The advantage lasted only seven minutes as Luke Shaw did well to thread a ball into the box to Andreas Pereira. The Brazilian, playing in the no.10 role, instantly laid it off for Martial, whose shot at the near post deceived Martin Dubravka, the keeper unable to keep it out with an outstretched right hand.
The mood changed immediately, with the United scorer winning the ball back to create another chance, via Greenwood, for Andreas, who decided to go it alone and scooped over the top.
Rashford and Andreas were then off target again as the Reds continued to press before a special moment at the Theatre of Dreams. United harried the Newcastle backline until Fabian Schar was pressured into a stray pass. Greenwood picked it up and had the confidence to go for goal from distance, his left-footer taking a deflection before thumping off the underside of the bar and in for his eighth goal of the season.
Encouragingly, the hosts did not relent with an Andreas free-kick bringing the best out of Dubravka, who pushed it away. With four minutes left of the half, McTominay shielded the ball forcefully from Matty Longstaff. With the Tynesiders appealing for an elbow on their midfielder, play was worked out wide by Andreas to Aaron Wan-Bissaka. The right-back delivered an excellent cross and Rashford jumped highest to bury a classic header for 3-1.
Joelinton showed there was still some fight in the visitors, turning Victor Lindelof to find a shooting position, but his attempt was a tame one and De Gea saved.
Mason Greenwood is congratulated by his delighted colleagues.
Paul Pogba was introduced for McTominay at the interval, to make his 150th appearance for the club in all competitions, with the Scotland international feeling the effects of a bruising challenge in the first half.
It took the Frenchman under five minutes to go close to scoring, sweeping a drive wide from the edge of the box. Seconds later, a poor backpass by Sean Longstaff allowed Martial a free run on goal and he produced a dinked finish past Dubravka for his second of the game, to effectively seal the points.
Although Schar launched an ambitious effort way off target, most of the chances continued to fall to the Reds. Pogba displayed neat footwork before forcing Dubravka into a save and Martial was only denied a hat-trick by the base of a post, after latching onto a pass by the influential Pogba.
On a chastening evening for the Magpies, Rashford and Martial were withdrawn to save their legs but there remained the hope of more goals. Dubravka spilled a ball in by Jesse Lingard but recovered before Lingard’s fellow substitute Juan Mata could pounce. Greenwood was then unable to convert a good pass by Mata.
Things petered out towards the end, perhaps understandably given the schedule, but Maguire did work Dubravka again with a decent strike from long range.
Anthony Martial scores the fourth goal past Martin Dubravka.
United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Maguire (c), Lindelof, Shaw; McTominay (Pogba 46), Fred; Greenwood, Andreas, Rashford (Lingard 63); Martial (Mata 67).
Subs not used: Romero, Jones, Young, James.
Scorers: Martial 24,51 Greenwood 36, Rashford 41.
Booked: McTominay, Andreas.
Newcastle: Dubravka; Schar (Krafth 88), Fernandez (c), Lejeune; Manquillo, S. Longstaff, M. Longstaff, Almiron (Yedlin 63), Willems; Joelinton, Gayle (Atsu 59).
Subs not used: Darlow, Hayden, Shelvey, Carroll.
Scorer: M. Longstaff 17.
Booked: Schar, Yedlin.
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