Manchester United traveled to the North East in a 3pm kick off this afternoon hoping to put to rights their shock defeat in the reverse fixture earlier this season. Newcastle aspired to complete the double over Moyes men’, a feat they had not achieved since 1931 and one they will have to keep waiting for.
The teams came in to the fixture with nothing much to lose, or gain, with both sides out of Champions League contention and significantly depleted squads through injuries to key players.
It appeared that without their talisman, Rooney for United and Remy for the Magpies, both sides were heading for a dull afternoon as neither could penetrate the opposition’s defence in a generally lacklustre first half.
It took a free-kick to break the deadlock, as United’s Mata was the Juan who kicked off the scoring in the 39th minute. The Rooney-esque effort came after a controversial decision from referee Kevin Friend, who awarded the decision for a foul on Darren Fletcher committed by Gosling just outside the box.
With Rooney left out of the squad injured, the occasion for Mata to step up and prove his worth was presented. The Spaniard effortlessly curled a superb ball past Newcastle’s Rob Elliot who could only stand and watch as it nestled in to the top right hand corner.
With United 1-0 up at half time, Newcastle had to come up with something special in order to get back in the game. The home side had enjoyed good spells of possession but failed to convert it into goal scoring opportunities due to poor final touches and several great saves from Lindegaard. Cisse had just the one chance in the first half in the 24th minute as a superb cross from Davide Santon forced a great save from United’s number 2 goalkeeper.
However Newcastle were not the only side to rue missed chances. United’s Mexican striker Hernandez failed to provide his side with a two goal cushion just before the half-time whistle after a great ball from Kagwa saw him go through one on one with goalkeeper Elliot who stepped up on the occasion, tipping the ball wide.
The game looked all but over as a mere five minutes in to the second half Newcastle conceded for a second time. United dominated possession down the right channel of the pitch with Hernandez stealing past Newcastle’s defence. The Mexican produced a fine ball into the centre of the box where Kagawa and Mata eagerly awaited. It was the Spaniard who found the ball and coolly side-stepped Coloccini’s efforts to dispossess him as he dispatched United’s second goal from close range.
Hernandez had yet another chance to bag a goal on the hour mark as the ball fell to him again in prime position in front of goal, but he took his chance too quickly and saw his effort zip over the bar. It wasn’t long before he made amends, however, as minutes later great play from teammates Januzaj and Kagawa saw Hernandez set up and this time tuck the ball into the back of the net from close range taking his impressive tally up to 42 goals out of 82 starts.
A depleted Newcastle continued to press forward, with Cisse desperate to get his name on the score sheet. The striker attempted to breach United’s defence a further two times with a long distance curling effort that Lindegaard had to pull out a great stop for and another one late on in the game from close range that forced the goalie to react superbly to once more.
The icing on the cake for United came in stoppage time when Mata produced an audacious back heeled pass to team up promising talent Januzaj who completed United’s rout as he slotted home United’s fourth in the dying minutes.
With United way off the pace for fourth place, the reds will be hoping to snatch a surprise win on Wednesday night as they face Champions Bayern Munich in their efforts to keep their season alive. Newcastle will be hoping to end their goal drought in their remaining fixtures in order to secure a top ten finish.