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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Newcastle United Vs. Manchester United Match Report

United re-established a seven point lead at the head of the Premier League table, but were pushed all the way by a pepped-up Newcastle United side at St James' Park.

Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov struck goals in either half to seal the points, but not before Peter Lovenkrands had fired the hosts into an unlikely early lead. With Chelsea and Liverpool both winning on Tuesday, this was a potentially massive win in United's bid for a third successive Premier League title.

The Magpies were at United from the very first whistle and, with Jonas Gutierrez and Obafemi Martins on song, set out with an open gameplan devised to catch the visitors cold, which they duly did.

For all the praise lavished upon Edwin van der Sar for his long run without conceding a goal – which stretched back to November – the Dutchman was guilty of a handling error as the hosts took an unexpected lead on nine minutes.

Gutierrez cut in from the left wing and aimed a speculative shot towards the far corner. The Argentine’s effort dipped in front of van der Sar, who could only palm it out to Lovenkrands for a simple finish.

United’s response was unflustered, with passes fizzing around the snow-kissed St James’ Park turf with accuracy and incision. Rooney tested Steve Harper with a left-footed curler, but a lightning-quick break from the hosts ended with Martins drilling a shot just past van der Sar’s upright. The Nigerian scored against United on the opening day of the season, and he was proving a real thorn in the Reds’ side. Nemanja Vidic picked up the game’s first yellow card for halting Martins’ surge into the area after 19 minutes.

A minute later, United were level. John O’Shea and Ji-sung Park swapped passes on the right wing before the former fed Rooney inside the Newcastle area. The England striker beautifully accepted the ball, rolling his body to lash a left-footed shot high past Harper, albeit via a tiny nick off defender Steven Taylor.

For all the cool, calculated nature of United’s rise to the Premier League summit, this was a game more in keeping with the see-saw United-Newcastle matches which have become a highlight in past seasons. The thin layer of snow quickly evaporated on a pitch scorched by two sides intent only on attacking at speed.

The Magpies continued to unsettle United’s usually unflappable backline, with Gutierrez just as eye-catching as he was in the season opener at Old Trafford. Corners and crosses were peppered into the United area, brazenly asking questions of a defence most opponents are too timid to even bother.

Five minutes before the interval, however, Nemanja Vidic somehow failed to send United into the interval in the lead. Criminal defending allowed Michael Carrick’s corner to curl across the six-yard box, but the Serb had to stoop to get any contact with the ball. He ended up in the netting, but the ball flew wide.

A game geared around nothing more than attacking intent took on a hint of needle around the interval as Steven Taylor cuffed Ronaldo around the ear as the pair chased a loose ball. The Newcastle defender then continued marauding into Michael Carrick, and was booked by referee Steve Bennett.

The official cautioned Rio Ferdinand for his venting his thoughts on the Taylor incident, and there was more feeling in the challenges all-round immediately after the break. Vidic came off worst after one, an errant elbow from Martins which left the Serbian nursing a swollen cheekbone.

Another Taylor, midfielder Ryan, was heavily involved as United took the lead on 56 minutes. The Newcastle new-boy sold Harper short with a chested back-pass which allowed Park to poke the loose ball across to Berbatov for a simple tap-in.

United continued to force the issue. A stunning break saw Rooney and Ronaldo break against five defenders, cut through them and then feed Berbatov, 25 yards out, but Harper was able to turn the Bulgarian's powerful shot over the bar.

Another opportunity came and went when Ronaldo picked up a raking pass from Carrick and Harper half-saved, sending the loose ball as far as Rooney. Having shifted the ball onto his right foot, just outside the area, he could only curl his shot just over.

As long as the lead remained at one goal, of course, there was always danger. It was a nervy, tense finish, but ultimately a successful one as United continue to swat aside all comers in the Premier League, having now posted 11 straight league wins.

Newcastle United Vs. Manchester United Highlights Video Clip

Newcastle United [1 - 2] Manchester United
9' [1 - 0] P. Løvenkrands
20' [1 - 1] W. Rooney
56' [1 - 2] D. Berbatov

1-0 P.Løvenkrands 9'

1-1 W.Rooney 20'

1-2 D.Berbatov 56'