United`s hopes of keeping hot-on-the-heels of Manchester City were blown away at a windy St James Park as we suffered a crushing defeat.
Sir Alex, with regards to his starting line-up, chose to give Anders Lindegaard the nod over De Gea in goal, Wayne Rooney returned after his bush with authority, Dimitar Berbatov kept his place after his recent goal fest whilst Rio Ferdinand started, again, in central defence.
United – Lindegaard, Evra, Jones, Ferdinand, Valencia, Giggs, Park, Carrick, Nani, Berbatiov, Rooney
Subs – De Gea, Rafael, Anderson, Pogba, Lingard, Hernandez, Welbeck.
First Half – Newcastle got the action underway in blustery conditions and could, despite United having the better of the early possession, have taken the lead. But, thankfully for us, the chance went begging when their leading scorer, Demba Ba, missed his kick.
Pushing forward, the home side forced the first save out of Lindegaard when he reacted well to comfortably save a low shot, from distance, from Cabaye. The keeper repeated the action minutes later when Chiok Tiote also tried his luck from some distance.
United`s first decent chance came when Tim Krul was forced to push away a snap-shot form Nani after Evra had done some positive work down the flank. Some more good work saw an effort from Berbatov get deflected onto the post although, strangely, the referee chose to award a goal kick.
The action was, at this point, frantic and Cabaye saw a shot deflected for a corner before a free kick, from Rooney, hit the Newcastle wall and also deflected wide. Giggs produced a precision pass but Rooney stumbled at just the wrong moment and the chance had gone.
United`s luck held when Ferdinand appeared to trip Ba in the penalty area but Howard Webb waved play on. Some would say that it was some sort of justice for the penalty Newcastle were awarded in the reciprocating clash at Old Trafford.
Newcastle were now in the ascendency and Ameobi headed over a Tiote cross before our hosts took the lead. A long ball was played out of defence, Ameobi headed it on and from what looked like an impossible position Demba Ba hooked his shot into the far side of the goal leaving Lindegaard with no chance.
Newcastle 1 United 0 (Ba – 32 minutes)
As half time approached, Giggs caught Ba as he unleashed a shot but from the resulting free-kick Taylor`s effort didn`t dip enough to go the right side of the bar for the Newcastle support.
With two minutes of stoppage time declared Lindegaard did well to prevent Ba from extending the lead.
Half Time – Newcastle 1 United 0
Sir Alex Ferguson sent the team out early for the second half, obviously with a flea in their ear but to no avail. Early on Jones was deemed to have obstructed Ba, Jones was awarded a yellow card and from the resulting free kick, some thirty yards out, Cabaye struck an awesome shot that hit the underside of the bar, bounced over the line, before sinning back out, giving Lindegaard no chance.
Newcastle 2 United 0 (Cabaye – 47 minutes)
United now had it all to do and Nani forced Krul into making a save form a long range effort before Sir Alex shuffled his pack by withdrawing the ineffective Berbatov and throwing on Welbeck.
Perhaps our luck, on the night, was summed up when Rooney saw his goal bound effort cleared off the line by the ex-United player Danny Simpson. Sir Alex made a second change bringing on Javier Hernandez for Park and a third minutes later bringing off Rooney and throwing on Anderson.
But it was all to no avail and in the final minute the miserable night was completed when a misunderstanding between Lindegaard and Jones saw the defender stoop to head the ball back to a keeper who had moved in the opposite direction in anticipation and the net rippled once again.
Newcastle 3 United 0 (Jones og – 90 minutes)
Not the ideal preparation with a clash with Manchester City looming!
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