Soccer

5 talking points as Manchester United pile misery on Newcastle

Manchester United overcame struggling Newcastle to reclaim second place in the Premier League with a 3-1 victory at Old Trafford.

Daniel James scored the decisive goal in the second half after Marcus Rashford's magical opener was cancelled out by Allan Saint-Maximin's fine strike in the first half.

Rashford took on and beat Emil Krafth twice as he darted in from the wing and lashed in at the near post on the half-hour mark.

But Saint-Maximin ensured the Red Devils' lead lasted just six minutes by pouncing on a loose ball after a corner to finish into the roof of the net.

James was on hand to put the hosts ahead after the interval and Bruno Fernandes sealed the three points from the penalty spot after Rashford was fouled by Joe Willock.

The result sees Manchester United reclaim second place after Leicester momentarily leapfrogged them with victory over Aston Villa earlier on Sunday.

At the other end of the table, Newcastle sit just three points above the relegation zone, with an improving Fulham firmly on their tail.

Here are five talking points from Old Trafford.

1. Rashford nets stunner

Of the 18 goals Marcus Rashford has scored this season, his opener against Newcastle is arguably the pick of the punch.

After a first 30 minutes in which Manchester United failed to make inroads against their visitors, Rashford decided to take the initiative.

The Englishman collected the ball on the left flank from Harry Maguire, knocked the ball through Emil Krafth's legs and burst towards the box.

Krafth made up the ground to block Rashford's path into the penalty area, but once again the Swede was no match for his opponent's footwork.

Rashford knocked the ball to create room for a shot and rifled into the near post from a tight angle – it was a Lionel Messi-esque shimmy and shoot to catch the goalkeeper off guard.

Rashford's magical goal was a rare moment of quality during a frustrating first half for the hosts, with Anthony Martial failing to capitalise on his start up front in place of the injured Edinson Cavani.

But there are signs of promise from Daniel James, who was alert in the box to net his third league goal of the season after a cross was prodded into his path by Bruno Fernandes.

The Welshman may have given Solskjaer a selection dilemma going forward, as neither he nor Mason Greenwood have cemented themselves as first-choice right-winger as of yet.

2. Red Devils fail to respond to set-piece threat

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be hugely frustrated by the way Manchester United let their lead slip just six minutes after Marcus Rashford's goal.

Newcastle had posed a threat from set pieces throughout the first half and Allan Saint-Maximin was especially dangerous latching onto the loose balls on the edge of the area.

After a corner was partly cleared, the Newcastle forward let loose a vicious, dipping shot from 20 yards which forced another set piece from the flag.

This time, Harry Maguire's header fell to Saint-Maximin inside the box and the Frenchman showed impeccable technique to finish on the volley and draw the Magpies level.

The Red Devils had received a warning only seconds earlier, but were blissfully unaware of the unmarked Newcastle players in and around the box, while they were also far too slow to close Saint-Maximin down.

3. De Gea rocked by Solskjaer's warning

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has thrown his weight behind David de Gea since his appointment in March 2019, but the goalkeeper's form remains largely unconvincing.

So the Manchester United manager tried a new strategy ahead of the visit of Newcastle and warned De Gea he no longer has first-choice status at Old Trafford.

With Dean Henderson continuing to stake his claim for more game time, it seemed a reasonable thing to say and may have injected De Gea with new impetus.

If anything, however, the warning had an adverse effect and the Spaniard produced one of his shakiest performances of the season.

De Gea looked uncomfortable under the high ball, struggled under pressure from Newcastle's physical attackers and his distribution almost landed the Red Devils in hot water on numerous occasions.

4. Wan-Bissaka's century

Aaron Wan-Bissaka marked his 100th Premier League appearance with another impressive display in testing circumstances.

The Manchester United right-back was faced with defending Newcastle forward Allan Saint-Maximin and reaffirmed his status as one of the best one-on-one defenders in the country with his composed work against the Frenchman.

Wan-Bissaka's steadfast display meant Saint-Maximin had little joy on the flank – and he was far more threatening when operating in central areas.

Meanwhile, the Englishman's work on the attack seems to be improving with every fixture he plays.

Wan-Bissaka's lack of goals and assists from the right flank have been criticised in the past, but four of his 11 career goal involvements in the Premier League have come this season.

The 23-year-old forced the first save from Karl Darlow by cutting inside and shooting from range, and he appears to have much more confidence on the front foot.

He's is primed to pick up more goal involvements over his next 100 Premier League appearances.

5. Yet more involvement for Fernandes

They say you make you're own luck, and Bruno Fernandes' purple patch is showing no sign of ending any time soon.

The Manchester United talisman picked up yet another – albeit fortunate – assist as he poked Nemanja Matic's cross into Daniel James' path, with the Welshman scoring the decisive goal in the 57th minute.

Fernandes then sealed the victory with 15 minutes remaining as he fired a penalty past Karl Darlow – who is the only goalkeeper to deny him from the spot in the Premier League.

It was by no means his finest performance for the Red Devils, but the Portuguese has a knack of picking up goal involvements even when he is not at the centre of the action.

His contributions against Newcastle mean he is now in double figures for both goals (15) and assists (10) in the Premier League this season, and he has more goal involvements than any other player in the division.

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