Newcastle 1-1 Manchester United: Player ratings, man of the match, heroes & villains as Cavani saves Reds

David De Gea dives to stop Allan Saint-Maximin. Credit: Getty.David De Gea dives to stop Allan Saint-Maximin. Credit: Getty.
David De Gea dives to stop Allan Saint-Maximin. Credit: Getty.
Manchester United were fortunate to leave St James’ Park with a point after anther poor showing in the Premier League.

Manchester United’s much-anticipated return to action left much to be desired, as the Red Devils put in a subpar showing in the 1-1 draw away to Newcastle United.

Monday’s game, the visitors’ first in 16 days after a recent covid-19 outbreak at the club, was another example of the huge job Ralf Rangnick has on his hands, and United can count themselves fortunate to come away with a point against a side who have won just once in the league this season.

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Had they added to Allan Saint-Maximin’s opener on seven minutes, Newcastle would surely have a earned an invaluable three points. The Frenchman tore through the Red Devils’ defence and smashed past David De Gea after just seven minutes, to compound a shaky start at the back.

For all their dominance in the first half, Eddie Howe’s side failed to create enough clear-cut chances and gave the Red Devils a platform to build from.

It was Edinson Cavani, the half-time substitute who struck on 71 minutes and poked the ball into the back of the net following a Diogo Dalot cross.

Both goalkeepers were called into action in the latter stages, but neither defence was breached again and the game ended level.

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Edinson Cavani’s goal got United on level terms. Credit: Getty.Edinson Cavani’s goal got United on level terms. Credit: Getty.
Edinson Cavani’s goal got United on level terms. Credit: Getty.

The heroes

  • Eddie Howe: The 44-year-old has overseen just one win in charge of Newcastle prior to Monday, but that point against a side in the Champions League could prove huge in the course of the Magpies’ season. The draw leaves them two points behind 17th-place Watford, although the Hornets have played three fewer games.
  • David De Gea: A man who has all too often kept United in games this season, once again needed to be at his very best at St James’ Park. The United No.1 made several big saves to deny Ryan Fraser and Saint-Maximin in the second half, but a full-length sprawl across his goal-line thwarted Miguel Almion in the 88th minutes, and ensured United didn’t suffer an embarrassing loss.
David De Gea was Manchester United’s standout performer in Newcastle. Credit: GettyDavid De Gea was Manchester United’s standout performer in Newcastle. Credit: Getty
David De Gea was Manchester United’s standout performer in Newcastle. Credit: Getty

The villains

  • Raphael Varane: The Frenchman started his first league game since October, and couldn’t have endured a worse beginning. Varane’s heavy touch midway inside his own allowed Sean Longstaff to collect the ball and feed Saint-Maximin, who drove at goal and smashed it beyond De Gea. But more than that, Varane suffered a very awkward night in the North-East and looked completely off the pace after his lengthy spell on the sidelines.
  • Callum Wilson: The injury-prone striker went down in the first period holding his calf and had to be replaced just before the break. The ex-Bournemouth man had put in an impressive performance in the opening 45 minutes and hopefully the problem isn’t serious.
  • Bruno Fernandes: Rangnick is struggling to find a spot for the midfielder in his 4-2-2-2 system. Fernandes started in the attacking areas in the first half but struggled to have a serious impact on proceedings. In the second period, he was deployed in a deeper role and played more intricate passes, calculating in the build-up to Cavani’s goal, but the No.18 is still far off the level United fans became accustomed to his first 12 months at Old Trafford.

Player ratings

Newcastle United: Dubravka 7; Krafth 6, Schar 6, Lascelles 6, Manquillo 7; S. Longstaff 7, Shelvey 7, Joeinton 8; Fraser 7 (Almiron 74), Wilson 7 (Murphy 45+6), Saint-Maximin 8 (Gayle 83).

Manchester United: De Gea 8; Dalot 5, Varane 4, Maguire 3, Telles 5; McTominay 6 (Matic 78), Fred 3 (Sancho 46; 5); Rashford 5, Fernandes 4; Greenwood 4 (Cavani 46; 7), Ronaldo 4.

Man of the Match

It’s difficult not to award it to Saint-Maximin after his superb performance, but Joelinton also put in an excellent display in the centre of the park. His physicality, driving runs and infectious pressing helped guide Newcastle to a precious point.

Who do United play next?

The Red Devils are back in action on Thursday 30 December when they host Burnley. By that stage, Sean Dyche’s men won’t have played in 18 days due to postponements in recent weeks.

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