|Newcastle Utd||3-0||Man Utd|
|Jones (og) 90|
Newcastle United prevented Manchester United from drawing level with Man City at the top of the Barclays Premier League by producing some fine football en route to a 3-0 home win on the evening of Wednesday 4th January 2012.
It’s official! In Demba Ba, Newcastle United have discovered a goal machine not seen on Tyneside since the prodigal son returned.
No surprise, then, that, when leaving the field on 89 minutes to be replace by former Man Utd man Obertan, Ba received a standing ovation from the Toon faithful: his side were beating the Barclays Premier League holding champions 2-0 at home. Until tonight, Newcastle had not beaten the Red Devils, home or away, in over a decade: 2001 was their last victory.
Moments later, the Magpies joy was redoubled when a long Tim Krul punt forward in the strong winds of St James Park was headed into the Man Utd net by defender Phil Jones, making the scoreline 3-0, and underlining a great night for Newcastle.
Early in the match, Man Utd started brightly, but it was Newcastle who produced the first chance of note, when Yohan Cabaye hit a well-taken low effort from outside the area, which young Man United goalkeeper, Anders Lindegaard did well to smother and handle in his bottom left-hand corner.
Nani, who has been one of Manchester United’s most consistent players this season, then went close, striking a high shot which Tim Krul kept out with an unorthodox punch to the middle of his area, which he was thankful to see mis-controlled tamely back at him by the onrushing Rooney.
Berbatov, who has scored six times in the past three outings for Man Utd, then went extremely close when heading a Patrice Evra cross for the far corner from 6 or 7 yards. His deflected attempt bounced agonisingly into the far post and out for a corner, with Krul well beaten.
Demba Ba then showed just why he is Tyneside’s new hero, and got the hosts off to a great start just after the half hour mark, when he bagged his 15th league goal of the season. His finish was a contender for Goal of the Week, if nothing more, as he hit an acrobatic, turning volley straight into the top-left corner from just inside the opposite corner of the area. Defender Phil Jones had an opportunity to head the ball away and will be disappointed that his misjudged header was what effectively played Ba in for his volley. Small mistakes are punished by strikers in the sort of form Ba is experiencing this season.
This goal was the first that Lindergaard had conceded this season for Manchester United in the league. It was not to be the last, however, as, despite finishing 1-0 to Newcastle at half time, the hosts were soon celebrating a second goal when Yohan Cabaye struck an excellent near-unstoppable free-kick that struck the underside of the crossbar just next to its intersection with the post, before bouncing into the net. Lindergaard just brushed his fingertips on the ball, but it was struck and placed well enough by the Frenchman to sneak in. 2-0.
Danny Simpson was then in the right place at the right time to deny Wayne Rooney from on the line with Krul beaten following a deflected Nani cross.
After Newcastle manager Alan Pardew had taken Ba off to rapturous applause, another long kick forward by Krul, with the clock approaching 90 minutes, was not dealt with by Phil Jones. With the ball falling in his area – perhaps his goalkeeper should have been out and claiming – Jones let the ball bounce before attempting to head clear. Instead the ball struck him and rolled tamely into his net for an OG on a night all in red will want t0 soon forget.
For Newcastle, this match could well be the catalyst that sees them return to the sort of form that, until a couple of months ago, had put them into the top three or four in the land.
However, Demba Ba, their main man this term, is soon heading to the African Cup of Nations with his native Senegal. Just how well they do without his goal threat may well be the key to how their season pans out.
Newcastle end the match in 7th in the league, just one point behind Liverpool, who are 6th. Man Utd remain 2nd, but are three points behind Man City, who top the table, and only three ahead of Spurs, who have a game in hand.