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EPL: Toothless United held by Newcastle

Manchester United fans were hoping to see a rejuvenated Red Devils side following a lengthy covid-induced break.

But, Ralph Rangnick’s men looked rusty in action and would deem themselves lucky to come back with a point from St. James Park. 

Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe had covid concerns as well, since he only had eight substitute players at his disposal, including two goalkeepers.

But, he had his strongest starting XI available, which gave United a run for their money. 

The hosts started on the front foot and reaped their reward soon.

Defensive error costs United

Allan Saint-Maximin, who was perhaps determined to prove his worth following some vague criticisms from his manager, had no trouble shrugging off three red shirts, including that of Harry Maguire’s, to fire the ball into the net.

Raphael Varane would not be keen to watch the replay of that goal, as the move started when he poorly lost possession to Sean Longstaff and the 24-year-old released Maximin to wreak havoc.

Manchester United saw a lot of the ball, but they rarely threatened the Newcastle backline.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Mason Greenwood, and Marcus Rashford cut three alienated figures throughout the first half, devoid of any chemistry whatsoever. 

Jonjo Shelvey made a fantastic run penetrating the midfield and launched a fantastic strike towards the United goal.

David de Gea, who would make a few more crucial saves in the night appearing as United’s saving grace, had to make sure the ball stayed out of the post and the visitor’s deficit remained the same.

Rangnick stormed down the tunnel after the first half whistle, knowing he needed to make some changes to bore through the resolute United defence. 

Apart from Saint-Maximin, Joelington stole the show for the Magpies in the first half as the Brazilian lined up as a midfielder alongside Shelvey, rather than leading the line.

With the defensive cover of Shelvey, Joelington patrolled the midfield with authority, cutting down opposition passing lanes, and probing the United defence with splitting passes.

Rangnick makes changes 

Edinson Cavani and Jadon Sancho entered the fray to change the dynamics of the game, and they did make United a bit more formidable going forward.

Cavani squandered two good chances as he couldn’t keep his efforts on target from a Bruno Fernandes cross and a Sancho cutback.

Ronaldo, who was lucky to stay on the pitch after recklessly kicking Ryan Fraser without the ball, volleyed an effort wide, summing up a night that will not go down to his archive of countless heroics. 

On the other end of the pitch, Saint-Maximin, who was now the centrepiece of the Newcastle attack as Callum Wilson limped off with an ankle injury, shot straight at De Gea after getting the ball in a promising position from Emil Krafth.

Cavani strikes

That miss proved costly, as Cavani made amends for his earlier misses and drew the scores level.

The onrushing Uruguayan met Diogo Dalot’s cross with a powerful header. Martin Dubravka managed to keep out the first attempt, but he had no answer for the rebound.

De Gea brilliantly denied Miguel Almiron in the later stages of the game and heaved a sigh of relief watching Jacob Murphy’s shot hit the post. 

The draw leaves Newcastle 19th on the table, but with a favourable run of fixtures coming, last night’s performance will give them renewed hope of escaping relegation.

Man United are seventh in the point table, seven points adrift of fourth-placed Arsenal. 

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