Newcastle keep Manchester United at bay at Old Trafford

A point separates the sides in the Premier League table.
Newcastle keep Manchester United at bay at Old Trafford

By Simon Peach, PA Chief Football Writer

Manchester United were frustrated by improving Newcastle in a goalless encounter that saw Erik ten Hag record his first draw since taking over.

Just a point separated the top-six sides as they kicked off what could prove important Premier League triple-headers in their respective seasons.

Newcastle began brightly on Sunday but were left holding on at the death as substitute Marcus Rashford nearly sparked more stoppage-time celebrations at Old Trafford.

Eddie Howe’s men had looked dangerous in the first half, with Callum Wilson seeing an early penalty appeal ignored before Joelinton hit the crossbar and sent his follow-up onto the post.

The hosts looked devoid of ideas without absent Christian Eriksen but returned for the second period with the bit between their teeth as Cristiano Ronaldo quickly saw two goals ruled out.

A Sean Longstaff challenge on Jadon Sancho was among a string of spot-kick appeals that fell on deaf ears before Ronaldo was substituted to his visible annoyance.

Rashford replaced him and produced a cross that Fred turned wide before heading across the face of goal as the Red Devils failed to replicate Thursday’s Europa League last-gasp win against Omonia Nicosia.

Groans greeted the unsatisfactory conclusion of an afternoon that had started with cheers for Sir Alex Ferguson as he made presentations to two of his finest signings.

Ronaldo was given an engraved plate after scoring his 700th club goal last weekend, with David De Gea receiving a plate to mark the fact Sunday was his 500th United appearance.

The pair kept their places as Ten Hag made three changes to the side that toiled against Omonia – a side far inferior to Howe’s outfit.

Fred sliced a shot wide early on and it did not take the confident, well-drilled Magpies long to make life uncomfortable.

Wilson saw appeals for a ninth-minute penalty against Raphael Varane ignored, before Dan Burn and Bruno Guimaraes had chances.

The away support could easily have been celebrating a 24th-minute goal.

Kieran Trippier’s free-kick struck the wall but the right-back reacted quickly to lift a cross over the hosts’ flat-footed defence, with Joelinton sending a header onto the crossbar.

De Gea was on the deck as Joelinton met the rebound, only to head onto the post as the ball eventually went out for a corner that Wilson glanced across the face of goal.

Newcastle continued to test Ten Hag’s flat side, who did not manage a shot on target until the 38th minute when Sancho smartly put Antony in to test Nick Pope.

Wilson dragged across the face of goal soon after the second half got under way, before Ronaldo twice found the back of the net.

Firstly, the 37-year-old beat Pope but looked straight at the linesman for the delayed flag well aware he had strayed offside.

But Ronaldo was raging to see his next chalked off, having scored after nipping the ball away from Pope as he prepared to take a free-kick.

The veteran’s claims that the set-piece had already been taken did not cut it with referee Craig Pawson, who instead booked the angry forward.

Trippier held his hands in the air when Ronaldo appealed for a penalty against him in the 54th minute, with another potential spot-kick checked by the VAR four minutes later.

Longstaff made contact with Sancho in the box but it was not deemed enough for a penalty, much to the Old Trafford faithful’s chagrin. Casemiro’s appeal soon after was much more hopeful.

Ronaldo trudged off muttering to himself as Rashford came on for the final 18 minutes as the hosts looked for a breakthrough.

The substitute fired a free-kick over and rounded Pope on the far side of the box late on, deciding to cross for Fred rather than shoot from an acute angle but the Brazil midfielder missed under pressure.

A better chance arrived in the fifth minute of stoppage time but Rashford headed a clipped Casemiro ball back across the face of goal.

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