Newcastle United 1 Manchester United 0
- Craig Pawson
Matt Ritchie’s second half strike gave Newcastle United a 1-0 win over Manchester United in a thrilling contest on Sunday afternoon.
Ritchie’s calm low finish with 25 minutes remaining earned the Magpies the points in a pulsating encounter at St. James’ Park, which was open and end-to-end from the first minute to the last.
It was an superb performance from Rafa Benítez’s team, whose midfield pairing Jonjo Shelvey and Mohamed Diamé set the tone with their industry in the middle of the park against Jose Mourinho's high-flying outfit.
United, with debutant goalkeeper Martin Dúbravka between the sticks, began well, and Chris Smalling’s handball on the edge of the box gave them an early sight of goal. Dwight Gayle’s free kick was blocked but it fell to Jonjo Shelvey, who forced a fine save from David De Gea, who palmed away the venomous shot.
Ayoze Pérez then fired wide as Benítez’s men applied plenty of pressure, but gradually the Red Devils found their feet, beginning to probe Newcastle’s backline in the final third without carving out any real scoring opportunities.
Kenedy’s fierce drive was held by De Gea while his opposite number Dúbravka was called into action for the first time on the half hour, tipping away Jesse Lingard’s deflected effort. The Slovakian then had to deny Anthony Martial when Nemanja Matic sent him clear, saving well with his feet.
In the half’s final seconds Jamaal Lascelles deflected Romelu Lukaku’s shot over the bar, and after the restart the Belgian forward saw a goal ruled out for a shove on Florian Lejeune as the game remained open.
Alexis Sanchez then danced through the Magpies defence before his shot was diverted wide, and then went even closer moments later, rounding Dúbravka before hesitating and allowing Lejeune to get back and block his goalbound shot.
But then, Ritchie struck. Chris Smalling conceded a free kick, going down despite Shelvey having made no contact with him. Shelvey lofted the free kick in himself, Lejeune nodded it into the centre and Gayle’s deft flick left Ritchie all alone in front of goal. The Scotland international duly dispatched, leaving De Gea with no chance, sending St. James’ wild in the process.
Kenedy had another shot charged down, but Mourinho’s side weren’t done yet. Martial pounced on a loose ball after Juan Mata’s corner, but somehow couldn’t find a way past Gayle on the goalline. Twice the Frenchman fired goalwards, but twice the United forward got in the way.
Though the visitors threw bodies forward towards the end, they couldn’t find a way past a resolute United defence or the brilliant Dúbravka, who produced a stunning stop in the dying seconds to seal a memorable win.