Late Ashley Young winner secures Man Utd’s top four stay
Manchester United left it late at St James’ Park to overcome Newcastle United, with an 89th-minute winner from Ashley Young securing all three points in a 1-0 win and keeping Louis van Gaal’s side within the top four places of the Premier League.
The Red Devils, 5/6 with Coral to secure a Champions League return next season, survived an early penalty scare and relied on further heroics from sublime stopper David De Gea to keep them in the game, before wideman Young’s late strike earned a vital victory on Tyneside.
Young’s decisive effort, which was gifted after Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul failed to deal with Wayne Rooney’s relentless close-range attempts, spoilt the Magpies night, after defiantly holding United until the final stages and brilliantly welcoming courageous Argentine Jonas Gutierrez back to competitive action.
It was another frustrating clash for Van Gaal’s men, before their crucial decider, as Krul’s inspired form between the sticks continued to keep United at bay, with De Gea spectacularly denying Emmanuel Riviere twice, before thwarting Moussa Sissoko’s last-gasp equalising attempt.
Chris Smalling was fortunate to get away with a clumsy challenge on Riviere in the opening moments, having brought the Frenchman down with what appeared to be an obvious foul, but referee Anthony Taylor waved away strong Geordie appeals.
Midway through the first period, Northern Ireland international Jonny Evans and Magpies marksman Papiss Cisse were involved in a controversial tussle, with both players appearing to spit at each other, meaning the duo could soon face punishment from the FA.
Stuttering star Angel Di Maria was again replaced by Belgian Adnan Januzaj shortly before the hour-mark, leading to a frustratingly fiery reaction from the £60m playmaker, after a game in which he was unable to make a genuine impact on proceedings, but through no lack of effort on his part.
Having previously toppled Aston Villa, John Carver’s Newcastle were unable to secure three consecutive home games unbeaten, as the Red Devils rallied to an important triumph, extending an incredible run which has seen them lose only twice in their last 22 fixtures in all competitions.
Young’s goal could prove to be a defining moment in the race for a Champions League spot, with fellow top four hopefuls Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham also picking up three points in their midweek matches.
United are currently two points ahead of Brendan Rodgers’ rampant Reds, and will face a daunting trip to Anfield after a visit from Tottenham in their next two league outings, both following their FA Cup quarter-final clash with Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal.
Van Gaal’s silverware-chasing side are 11/4 to lift a 12th FA Cup trophy later this year, having last won the competition in 2004.