Daniel James and Bruno Fernandes spare Man Utd’s blushes as big questions remain
Manchester United limped to an unconvincing win that did little to enhance their status as the second-best team in England.
Second-half goals from Dan James and Bruno Fernandes spared United's blushes and denied Newcastle what would have been a deserved and much-needed point in their battle to beat the drop.
Marcus Rashford had fired United ahead before the break with a virtuoso strike to notch his 18th goal of the season.
But Steve Bruce's men equalised when Allan Saint-Maximin plundered his first goal since October as the Magpies pushed United to the limit and dominated them for large spells, only to leave with nothing.
The win saw United go back to second in the table, but they remain 10 points behind runaway leaders Manchester City and not in the same class as their neighbours.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made five changes, including recalling David De Gea in goal and handing James his first Premier League start since Boxing Day.
Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial also returned at the expense of Eric Bailly, Alex Telles and Mason Greenwood as United looked to leapfrog Leicester in second place.
Bruce, meanwhile, made just one change to the side that lost at Chelsea last time out and recalled Joelinton in attack, with Dwight Gayle dropping to the bench.
The Magpies had won just two of their last 13 games to find themselves too close to the relegation zone for comfort.
The pressure was mounting on Bruce, but his side could have taken a shock lead inside the opening five minutes when a looping cross from Jonjo Shelvey caused mayhem in the United defence.
De Gea punched the ball clear but it dropped to Joelinton, whose deflected shot forced the Spaniard into a stunning save.
Moments later De Gea went from hero to villain when giving the ball straight to Joelinton, but thankfully for him the blunder came to nothing when Shelvey fired over the top.
The visitors were dominating possession and Miguel Almiron tried his luck from long range on 27 minutes that forced De Gea into another smart stop.
United looked out of sorts and struggled to string three decent passes together.
Top trending sport stories right now
But just like that, Solskjaer's men broke the stalemate on 30 minutes thanks to a moment of brilliance from Rashford.
There looked little on when Rashford took the ball on the touchline, but in a flash he had nutmegged Emil Krafth before charging into the box to drill a powerful shot past Karl Darlow at his near post.
It came out of the blue – but the Magpies refused to buckle and hit back within five minutes to level matters through Saint-Maximin.
De Gea had kept out his initial effort, but when the ball came back to him from Harry Maguire's clearing header the Frenchman blazed a second strike into the back of the net to leave Bruce thrilled.
But his delight turned to despair when James latched onto Nemanja Matic's pass before drilling a powerful shot past Darlow to make it 2-1 on 57 minutes with his third goal in three games.
The result remained in the balance, until Joe Willock tripped Rashford to concede a penalty on 74 minutes which Fernandes despatched to complete the flattery of the home side.
MANCHESTER UNITED (4-2-3-1):De Gea 7; Wan-Bissaka 7, Lindelof 6, Maguire 6, Shaw 6; Matic 6, Fred 6; JAMES 9 (Mata 88), Fernandes 6, Rashford 7 (Shoretire 88); Martial 5 (Greenwood 70, 7). Subs: Henderson, Bailly, Diallo, Telles, Williams, Tuanzebe.
UP NEXT: Real Sociedad (h), Europa League, Thursday.
NEWCASTLE (4-3-1-2):Darlow 7; Krafth 6, Lascelles 6, Clark 6, Lewis 7; Willock, Hayden 7, Shelvey 7; Almiron 7 (Gayle 79); Joelinton 6 (Fraser 55, 6), SAINT-MAXIMIN 8 (Murphy 77). Subs: Dubravka, Dummett, Carroll, Ritchie, Hendrick, Murphy, S Longstaff.
UP NEXT: Wolves (h), Premier League, Saturday.
REFEREE: Paul Tierney 7.
STAR MAN: Dan James – A constant threat
STAR SHOCKER: Anthony Martial – A constant let down.
MATCH RATING: 3.
Source: Read Full Article