Al-Bilad English Online Daily
MANCHESTER: Relegation threatened Newcastle United breathed life as a second-half strike from Matt Ritchie condemned Manchester United to a frustrating 1-0 defeat at St James’ Park on Sunday.
Ritchie found a Dwight Gayle’s flick before driving a low shot past David De Gea in the 65th minute of the match dominated by the Red Devils.
The Magpies survived the scare and held on to register their first win over United in five years and climbed five positions overnight to reach on 13th from the bottom three 18th in the premier league table.
A bitterly fought contest saw former Liverpool and Real Madrid boss Rafa Benítez’s team, whose midfield pairing Jonjo Shelvey and Mohamed Diaméset control the midfield against Jose Mourinho’s acclaimed midfield including the influential Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic. The Europa champions wasted a whole host of chances notably by Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez and Antony Martial.
Chris Smalling’s handball on the edge of the box gave Rafal Benitez’s side an early advantage in the open game inside five minutes. Dwight Gayle’s free kick was blocked by the Manchester wall but it fell to Jonjo Shelvey, who forced a spectacular save from David De Gea, who pushed away the powerful shot out of danger.
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) February 11, 2018
Manchester United dominated the position and won more set pieces but could not break the deadlock against an organized Magpies defence.
“They fought like animals – I hope they take that as a compliment. The gods of football were on their side. It was not going to happen for us today. Newcastle gave what they have and what they do not have, that is a beautiful thing in football.
“They fought for their point, a point is what they had in mind. We made a defensive mistake and when they are in front they had only one thing in mind and gave their lives to keep a clean sheet,” Mourinho told Manu TV in the post-match reaction.
“We could be here for 10 hours and we would not score a goal – that is the feeling. When you see the amount of chances we lost, starting in the first half when Anthony (Martial) was facing the keeper. In the second half, we had Alexis (Sanchez) with an open goal and then we had an accumulation of situations where it is incredible that we did not score.
But I think we also have to say the goal is a mistake. A lateral free-kick which travelled a long distance to the box – we lose the first ball in the air because we did not compete in the air and then we lost the second ball on the floor and from that moment, you could say it is about Newcastle luck – but it is also fair to say Newcastle fight,” the Portuguese added.
Elsewhere in the league Liverpool defeated Southampton 2-0 in a close contest at St. Mary’s Stadium thanks to the goals by Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah in the first half.
Jürgen Klopp’s side moved to within two points of the second-placed Manchester United in the table. Liverpool extended the grip on the top four where a photo finish is expected as United, Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal are fighting it out.