Newcastle United 1-0 Manchester United: Ritchie rockets Newcastle to safety positions against wasteful Red Devils

Newcastle United 1-0 Manchester United: Ritchie rockets Newcastle to safety positions against wasteful Red Devils

A second-half strike from Matt Ritchie gave Newcastle United there first home win since October.

Danial Kennedy

Matt Ritchie couldn't have picked a better time to get his first goal of the season, as his second-half effort not only gave Newcastle United their first home win in four months, not only a 1-0 win over high-flyers Manchester United, but catapulted The Magpies back out of the relegation zone and into 13th. 

Newcastle certainly started the better of the two sides with Jonjo Shelvey and Ayoze Pérez going close in the opening ten minutes, United picked up the pace as the half went on with Anthony Martial wasting an excellent opportunity but the period ended in controversy with Dwight Gayle seemingly being denied a penalty. 

José Mourinho's side turned it up a gear at the beginning of the second period with  Alexis Sánchez having one cleared off the line before Ritchie fired home in the 65th minute, united continued to push but it didn't look to be their day as Anthony Martial had two cleared off the line but Newcastle managed to survive for a vital home win. 

Rattling the Red Devils 

The task ahead of The Magpies seemed tough enough already with the visit of The Red Devils, but that was only heightened before kick-off, as Huddersfield Town's 4-1 win over Bournemouth put Newcastle into the relegation zone. Despite that the added pressure didn't seem to faze Rafael Benítez's men, as they had the best of the opening proceedings. 

The fifth minute brought the first opportunity as Newcastle won a free-kick on the edge of the area, Gayle's effort was easily deflected away but Shelvey's follow-up forced David De Gea to dramatically palm it away. 

Nemanja Matić was nearly punished moments later as he lost possession on the edge of the area, the ball came to Pérez, but the Spaniard's snapshot just skidded a yard wide of the post. 

Keen to impress 

Despite a slow start United began to grow into the game as time went on, but Martin Dúbravka was looking to impress on his debut for The Magpies producing two great saves. 

The first came in the 31st minute as Romleu Lukaku as he did well to outmuscle Florian Lejeune and get it across to Sánchez, the Chilean did well to find Jesse Lingard whose deflected looked dangerous but the keeper did well to get down low and save. 

Easily the best chance of the half came ten minutes before the break as Matić found space in the middle to thread a great ball into the feet of Martial, the Frenchman looked destined to be the winner in the one-on-one situation but Dúbravka again showed confidence to send it wide. 

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Denied a penalty? 

Some of the decisions from referee Craig Pawson and his officiating team certainly seemed to be getting to the home supporters, but St James' Park reached boiling point just before the break as they felt they were denied a clear penalty. 

Gayle crept ever closer to the United goal before been brought down on the edge of the area by Chis Smalling, Pawson waved away the appeals much to the disgust of the bumper crowd and with the benefit of a replay despite being very close it seems their disapproval was justified. 

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Getting closer and closer 

Manchester United looked to continue where they left off the first period with a new-found energy at the beginning of the second-half, and The Red Devils looked the most likely to find the lead. 

They had the ball in the net in the 53rd minute as a free-kick in found Smalling at the back post who headed it back across goal, it found the head of Lukaku who nodded home with relative ease but the Belgian was blown up for a foul in the build-up. 

Sánchez waved his magic wand moments later as he weaved past two or three defenders, but the Chilean's deflected effort was sent into the side-netting. 

​The winger should of given the visiting side the lead seconds after his first chance as he got on the end of Lukaku's through ball and took it around  Dúbravka, an empty net awaited Sánchez  as he got the ball out of his feet but a last-ditch slide tackle from Lejeune took it away. 

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Taking a crucial lead 

The Magpies had been under the quash from their Manchester opponents for the majority of the second period, but majorly boosted their survival chances with the opening goal. 

It was great play from the home side as Shelvey's free-kick was headed down by Lejeune into the feet of Gayle, the striker laid it off to Ritchie who had all the time in the world to stick low past De Gea for his first of the season. 

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Surviving the onslaught 

Mourinho went for broke as he flung on all three of his substitutions, and they will have been left scratching their heads how they didn't manage to break down the Newcastle defence. 

Martial was looking to redeem himself for his glaring miss in the first period as the corner fell into him in the six-yard box, but not only was his first effort was blocked on-the-line but his second bite of the cherry to get Newcastle's hearts out of mouths. 

The four added minutes would have seemed like a lifetime for the majority inside St James' as United came very close to a late equaliser, a cross was fizzed across the face of goal which Dúbravka turned away. It did look like that Lukaku was ready to turn home the rebound but Newcastle cleared their lines as joy and relief rang across Tyneside.