Manchester United 3-2 Newcastle
Manchester United 3-2 Newcastle: Substitute Alexis Sanchez heads late winner to complete superb comeback and ease pressure on Jose Mourinho as his side end run of four games without a win
- Substitute Alexis Sanchez scored the winner as Manchester United came from 2-0 down to win 3-2
- Juan Mata and Anthony Martial also scored as United staged dramatic comeback against Newcastle
- Newcastle established two-goal lead within 10 minutes after Kenedy and Yoshinori Muto found the net
- The victory was United’s first in four games and their first at home since the opening day of the season
- Jose Mourinho came into the clash under immense scrutiny following the disappointing run of results
- The result means that Newcastle, who are in the relegation zone, have still yet to get a league win this season.
They had said that Jose Mourinho was a dead man walking and, for 70 minutes of the game that was supposed to decide his fate, his Manchester United team turned in a performance of such lifeless misery that they might as well have had a corpse for a manager and cadavers for players.
Then, just when it seemed that all was lost and that United were about to complete their abject surrender to one of the worst teams in the Premier League, the players who appeared to have forsaken Mourinho scored three times and breathed new life into him.
And then Mourinho sought his vengeance. Simmering with cold fury, Mourinho went into self-righteous, self-aggrandising overdrive. Reminded of predictions he would be sacked whatever the result against Newcastle, he said he was a martyr.
Manchester United (4-3-3): De Gea 7; Young 6, Bailly 4 (Mata 19 7), Smalling 5, Shaw 5; McTominay 4 (Fellaini 46 4), Matic 3, Pogba 6; Rashford 4 (Sanchez 67), Lukaku 6, Martial 7.
Subs not used: Romero, Lindelof, Pereira, Fred
Booked: Shaw, Pogba
Goals: Mata 70, Martial 76, Sanchez 90
Newcastle (4-4-1-1): Dubravka 7; Yedlin 6, Lascelles 6, Fernandez 6, Manquillo 6; Kenedy 6 (Murphy 67 6), Diame 6, Shelvey 8, Ritchie 6; Perez 6 (Joselu 89 5); Muto 7 (Atsu 79 6).
Subs not used: Darlow, Clark, Schar, , Hayden
Booked: Ritchie, Diame
Goals: Kenedy 7, Muto 10
Referee: Anthony Taylor 7
Man of the match: Shelvey 8
Team P GD Pts 1 Manchester City 7 18 19 2 Liverpool 7 12 19 3 Tottenham Hotspur 8 8 18 4 Chelsea 7 10 17 5 Bournemouth 8 4 16 6 Arsenal 7 5 15 7 Wolverhampton Wanderers 8 3 15 8 Manchester United 8 -1 13 9 Watford 8 -1 13 10 Leicester City 8 2 12 11 Everton 8 1 12 12 Burnley 8 -2 8 13 Brighton and Hove Albion 8 -4 8 14 Crystal Palace 8 -4 7 15 West Ham United 8 -5 7 16 Southampton 7 -5 5 17 Fulham 7 -8 5 18 Huddersfield Town 8 -13 3 19 Newcastle United 8 -7 2 20 Cardiff City 8 -13 2
He gave us St Jose, a virtuous hero who had been pursued by the hounds of hell, the shadowy denizens of the television studios and the newspapers. He was, if you like, a kind of Richard Kimble, a fugitive hunted because of some terrible and baffling injustice. He was, he said, the victim of a ‘manhunting’.
He liked that theme so he ran with it. He said young players like Scott McTominay and Marcus Rashford had been so unsettled by the treatment meted out to their boss that it had upset them and made it difficult for them to play. ‘Rashford was sad on the pitch,’ he said, which stretched credibility. ‘McTominay was scared on the pitch.’
Mourinho deserved his moment. Staring into the darkness, his team 2-0 down after 10 minutes, he had danced up and down the touchline like a dervish in the second half, sprinting to retrieve balls, urging his players on, showing the kind of passion that has been so curiously absent for much of his tenure.
And in the end, his players did respond. If the first two thirds of the match constituted one of the worst passages of play many of us have ever seen from a United side, the last 20 minutes were full of dash and energy and creative beauty, a stirring comeback that will live long in the memory.
Whether that fightback, completed with a 90th-minute Alexis Sanchez header, will be enough to save Mourinho remains to be seen. It was tempting to think that United and Mourinho were only saved here because they finally came up against a club even more dysfunctional than they are.
And for almost three quarters of this match, Mourinho played silly games with his substitutions. He humiliated Eric Bailly, in particular, by bringing him off after 19 minutes. And his players played as if they had no love for their boss and no pride in their shirt. They played as if they had given up. They played as if they wanted him gone.
But in the end, they roused themselves. In the end, some instinct rose up inside them and they dredged up the victory that may prolong Mourinho’s tenure. Whether that just prolongs the agony of a managerial regime that seems to have run out of energy and run out of friends is a question for another day. The reality is that this was still pretty desperate stuff from United.
On a weekend when Liverpool and Manchester City play out a top-of-the-table clash, this was poor man’s fare. United were lucky that Newcastle were so dire and so low on confidence. Their comeback flatters them. They are still a world away from the best teams in the division.
This was just a papering over of the cracks. This was a three-goal rally that makes things more difficult for United’s executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward, and his embattled Old Trafford regime. Defeat would have made it easier for him to end the agony.
After the international break, United face Chelsea in the Premier League, Juventus in the Champions League twice and the derby against Manchester City in their next six fixtures. None of those sides will show the same mercy Newcastle showed them here.
None of them will fail to exploit the fault-lines that are still obvious everywhere within this divided club.
When Mourinho made his last substitution in the 67th minute, he brought on Sanchez for Rashford, who had just run the ball out of play. Mourinho turned his back on Rashford as the young forward left the field and bent down to pick up a bottle of water instead. Rashford ran straight to the bench. Relationship breakdown was everywhere. Petty little melodramas are everywhere at Old Trafford, too. Mourinho puts one fire out and another one starts somewhere else.
This week, his captain, Antonio Valencia, liked an Instagram post that called for Mourinho to be sacked. He recanted swiftly but not swiftly enough. When the United team sheet against Newcastle appeared, Valencia was not on it. He was not even on the bench.
Despite that, Mourinho had strolled jauntily up the touchline before kick-off, affecting bonhomie and nonchalance. He waved at fans, shook hands with Rafa Benitez and even playfully squirted a jet of water over a cameraman from one of the drinks bottles lying around.
The smiles did not last long. After seven minutes, United failed to deal with an innocuous throw-in and, when Kenedy picked up the ball, Ashley Young allowed him to turn and Kenedy bent a left-foot shot around David De Gea from the edge of the box.
Mourinho’s mood was different now. He held out his hands wide in exasperation as United descended into disarray. ‘You’re getting sacked in the morning,’ the Newcastle fans sang at him, happy to forget their own troubles. Three minutes later, Newcastle extended their lead. Once again, United’s defence was a shambles. The ball cannoned around on the edge of the area until it found Yoshinori Muto with his back to goal 12 yards out. It was Young, again, who allowed him to turn and he drilled a low shot past De Gea.
Their players did not know where to look. They looked cowed and defeated. Mourinho windmilled his arms on the touchline, trying to rouse them. For the most part, they averted their gaze.
Newcastle almost went three goals ahead after 18 minutes when Jonjo Shelvey let fly from 20 yards but De Gea scrambled to his right and pushed his shot wide. A minute after that, Mourinho took drastic action by substituting Bailly and bringing on Juan Mata.
That meant moving midfielder McTominay to centre-half. McTominay has played there before, of course, but he looked dreadfully ill at ease and Newcastle targeted him.
United had another escape 12 minutes before half-time when Shelvey won a header on the edge of their box and the United defence allowed it to sail straight through to Muto a few yards out. He nodded it on and somehow De Gea clawed it away at point-blank range.
At half-time, Mourinho tinkered again, dragging off McTominay, replacing him with Marouane Fellaini and moving Matic into central defence. So Matic and McTominay had both played in central defence ahead of Victor Lindelof, who stayed on the bench. That is the same Lindelof who Mourinho paid £30million for from Benfica.
Five minutes after half-time, United spurned another golden chance to drag themselves back into the game. Martin Dubravka produced a superb save to keep out a deflected shot from Paul Pogba but he could only parry straight into the path of Matic. The goal gaped. Matic smashed it high over the crossbar.
With 20 minutes remaining, United finally got a goal back. Anthony Martial was tripped on the edge of the area and Mata curled the free-kick over the wall into the bottom corner. Old Trafford revived and, a few minutes later, United were level. Martial was both architect and executioner this time, exchanging passes with Pogba and then shooting past Dubravka.
United’s victory seemed almost inevitable. It came in the dying seconds of normal time when Sanchez nodded in a cross and Old Trafford went wild. On the touchline, Mourinho the martyr began to prepare his vengeance.