An impressive performance from David de Gea helped Manchester United recover from a goal below to draw 1-1 against Newcastle, who will feel they should win their meeting at St James’ Park.
Allan Saint-Maximin fired a shot from distance after 7 minutes, but the long shot couldn’t find the net for the visitors’ keeper. .
Had it not been for De Gea, Newcastle could have been out of sight, with a world-class save late from Miguel Almiron’s deflection effort, culminating in a stunning individual display.
With the help of a lively home crowd, Newcastle were hot out of the traps, clearly anxious to put pressure on a side that had not played a competitive match in 16 days due to Covid-19-related match launches.
It was a plan that gave early success when United started the game in a slow and heavy way.
Raphael Varanes’s howling on the ball saw Sean Longstaff deprive him of possession, and he quickly fed the ball to Saint-Maximin, who moved the ball inside Harry Maguire before firing a fantastic shot into the far corner.
Jonjo Shelvey then stepped into the hands of De Gea and fired a shot on goal from 25 yards, even though the rest of the half lacked any real quality; A Callum Wilson goal that was rightly chalked offside, the only other to note.
Admittedly, United were completely abysmal – after struggling to get two passes together, let alone giving Martin Dubravka something sensible to do – but it was Newcastle’s intensity inside and outside the ball that had given them the upper hand.
Ralf Rangnick reacted by taking in Jadon Sancho and Edinson Cavani at the break, but it should have been 2-0 to Newcastle just a minute into the second half when Emil Krafth made a brilliant way to cut the ball back from the sideline.
But instead of sticking in the back of De Gea’s net, Saint-Maximin failed to put any force on his effort up close, allowing the Spaniard to palm the ball from goal.
A stream of yellow cards followed as the match was drawn, and Newcastle then left rue not to extend their lead. An elegant ball over the top from Bruno Fernandes reached Diogo Dalot, and he found the unmarked Cavani; the Uruguayan stabbed home from 12 yards the second time he asked.
United had chances to turn the match around, even if nothing was clear, and it was instead De Gea who came forward when Newcastle pressed on late.
After rescuing Saint-Maximin a number of times, he quickly got back on his feet after Jacob Murphy’s bending effort hit the post, tipping the resulting follow-up from Almiron around the post to ensure it ended completely in the Northeast. .
This is how both sides rated the night …
Dubravka was busy in the second half / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA / GettyImages
Martin Dubravka (GK) – 6/10 – Quick off his line to suffocate Greenwood’s feet after having very little to do during the first half. Had more to do in the second half, he did most things well.
Emil Krafth (RB) – 7/10 – A fantastic free kick close to the byline almost gave Saint-Maximin a goal after 37 minutes, but the shot went right into the keeper’s arms. Good both ways.
Fabian Schar (CB) – 6/10 – Keep United quiet for just over 55 minutes before the pressure was raised. Did nothing wrong.
Jamaal Lascelles (CB) – 7/10 – Cleared away countless balls and maintained a good defensive line for Newcastle. A heart-stopping misunderstanding with Dubravka was rectified.
Javi Manquillo (LB) – 6/10 – Most of the chaos seemed to happen around Manquillo, who was disciplined in his work.
Joelinton looks reborn in midfield / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA / GettyImages
Sean Longstaff (CM) – 7/10 – Slagged on Varane’s vibrating to put Saint-Maximin ahead of Newcastle’s premiere. Quite turned on when the intensity increased.
Jonjo Shelvey (CM) – 6/10 – A little careless on the ball sometimes, gives away possession or makes the wrong decision. Place De Gea’s palms with a noise.
Joelinton (CM) – 8/10 – Who would have thought that playing on the left side of a central midfield three would bring out the best in Joelinton? Impressive show full of industry and running.
Saint-Maximin was electrifying all the time / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA / GettyImages
Ryan Fraser (RW) – 7/10 – Showed fantastic energy from off, chased balls and saw stretch to United’s back line. Pressed relentlessly.
Callum Wilson (ST) – 6/10 – In a lively 45 minutes, Wilson saw link well to Saint-Maximin, but his evening was interrupted by an obvious calf injury.
Allan Saint-Maximin (LW) – 8/10 – How good is this guy to watch? Got the opportunity to cut inside and shoot but not take anything from goal – the unseen class. Somehow missed early doors in the second period but was a danger all the time. Jumped off late.
Murphy challenges McTominay in the air / PAUL ELLIS / GettyImages
Jacob Murphy (45 ‘) – 7/10 – Buzzed around bright after replacing Wilson at half time and saw a lot of the ball. Bend a brilliant late effort towards the goal frame.
Miguel Almiron (74 ‘) – 6/10 – Saw a wonderful late bend shot traded around the post by De Gea.
Dwight Gayle (83 ‘) – N / A
Maguire instilled some confidence / PAUL ELLIS / GettyImages
David de Gea (GK) – 8/10 – No chance with Saint-Maximin’s goal but very alert all the time. Good handling as low shots peppered him for a 20-minute period before he made a world-class stop to deny Almiron.
Diogo Dalot (RB) – 6/10 – The Portuguese had a hell of a battle on his hands as Newcastle looked to take advantage of Saint-Maximin’s skill at every opportunity. Did well in the name of justice and then took an assist.
Raphael Varane (CB) – 4/10 – He got his pocket picked by Longstaff and could only watch in horror when Newcastle opened the scoring. Saw off the speed when he returned.
Harry Maguire (CB) – 4/10 – Showed Saint-Maximin inside the goal when he needed to do other than. Just looks so, so shaky.
Alex Telles (LB) – 5/10 – Tried to get down on the left edge and offer outlets but the quality was short – like most others in red.
Rashford’s target return in 2021/22 is poor / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA / GettyImages
Fred (CM) – 5/10 – Recovered the ball satisfactorily even if it was often sideways or backwards – a symptom of United’s lack of ambition during the first 45. Hooked at the break.
Scott McTominay (CM) – 7/10 – Quick in the tackle, McTominay was again the one who actually had a little joy over him.
Marcus Rashford (AM) – 4/10 – Played in a deeper role on the right (type) and looked deprived of self-confidence, minus a rasping long shot that stung in Dubravka’s palms.
Bruno Fernandes (AM) – 4/10 – Did a really good thing the whole match, lifted the ball over the top for Dalot to find Cavani. Spent the rest of the game whining about decisions.
Ronaldo was desperately poor for the first 45 minutes / Ian MacNicol / GettyImages
Cristiano Ronaldo (ST) – 3/10 – Quite possibly one of his worst opening 45 minutes in the last 15 years. Did not stop moaning and, after thinking about it, it did not improve after the break.Mason Greenwood (ST) – 4/10 – Offered very few threats in the first 45 minutes but was he worse than Ronaldo? Definitely not. Suspended at half time.
? A double change in the break for United. # MUFC | #NEWMUN pic.twitter.com/y8WYrUDKli
– Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 27, 2021
Jadon Sancho (45 ‘) – 6/10 – Smart movements inside opened space for Dalot on the flank, although he is still looking for his Dortmund spark.
Edinson Cavani (45 ‘) – 7/10 – Taking intelligent positions in the penalty area, and after battering his first real view of Dubravka’s goal, he did not make the same mistake twice when left alone 12 yards out.
Nemanja Matic (77 ‘) – N / A
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