Newcastle United 0 Manchester United 2
- Andre Marriner
Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford were on target for Manchester United as Newcastle slipped to an eighth defeat of the season on home soil.
The Magpies matched the Red Devils for much of the opening period, with Christian Atsu twice coming close to opening the scoring early on. And, even as the second half got up and running, a repeat of last season’s heroics in the corresponding fixture still looked to be on the cards.
But, from the moment Belgian frontman Lukaku broke the deadlock – after capitalising on a rare Martin Dúbravka mistake – Newcastle never really looked like denying Ole Gunnar Solskjær a fourth successive win as Manchester United boss. Marcus Rashford wrapped things up with a simple finish 12 minutes from time as the Magpies endured a difficult start to the New Year.
As might have been expected, Manchester United enjoyed far more possession early on but, save for a Rashford free kick – parried by Dúbravka low to the ‘keeper’s right – they never really looked like making anything come of it. In fact, the first clear-cut chance of the game fell Newcastle’s way, with Atsu superbly bringing down a hopeful punt forward from Fabian Schär before forcing David de Gea into a low save.
Atsu had what was arguably an even better opportunity five minutes later. Ayoze Pérez played the ball over the top of the Red Devils’ backline and into the wide-man’s path, but with the angle tightening, he appeared to become caught in two minds, ultimately sending a low-struck cross-come-shot across the face of goal and out of play.
Just after the half-hour mark came a chance at either end of the pitch. After regaining a foothold, Manchester United were the first to go close, with in-form midfielder Paul Pogba drilling off-target after a neat passage of play. A lofted DeAndre Yedlin cross then gave Salomón Rondón a sight of goal, but the powerful frontman couldn’t quite keep his header down.
Into the second half, and it was Solskjær’s side who were the first to threaten. Five minutes after the restart, Rashford just about managed to beat the offside trap but, after collecting Victor Lindelöf’s pass and cutting onto his left foot, the England frontman fired wildly off-target from six yards.
Substitute Jonjo Shelvey registered the Magpies’ first shot of the second half shortly after coming on for Mohamed Diamé, fizzing a low drive at de Gea from just outside the penalty area. The Red Devils’ Norwegian boss then made a double substitution, and it was to pay dividends almost immediately.
A foul from Isaac Hayden presented Rashford with a chance to take aim from 25 yards, and after Dúbravka let the ball slip out of his grasp, Lukaku – introduced alongside returning wide-man Alexis Sánchez – was on hand to stab home with his very first touch.
The Magpies took a bit of time to respond but, with 15 minutes to play, they nearly got back on level terms through Atsu, who saw a rising left-footed attempt whistle just past the near post after Shelvey’s set-piece from deep was only half-cleared.
That was just about as good as it got for Newcastle in the second half, with Manchester United duly adding to their advantage with their next attack. Lukaku and Sánchez linked up on the counter, with the latter then teeing up Rashford – left completely unmarked on the opposite side of the penalty area – to coolly stroke home a second for Solskjær’s side.
The remainder of the game was something of a damp squib as far as the Magpies were concerned, and they were fortunate not to ship a third in stoppage time, when Pogba fired into the side-netting from just inside the area after rounding Dúbravka.