Man United 1 Newcastle Utd 1: Tim Krul heroics frustrate champions
Ten-man Newcastle United held on for a point at Old Trafford after Demba Ba's penalty cancelled out Javier HernÃ¡ndez's goal
Tim Krul’s heroics denied Manchester United a late winner as ten-man Newcastle United clung on for a deserved point at Old Trafford.
United appeared to be suffering from a Champions League hangover after their 2-2 draw against Benfica on Wednesday and were lacklustre in the first half.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side looked to be heading for a victory when Javier HernÃ¡ndez scored four minutes after the interval – but they were cruelly denied by a poor referring decision which allowed Newcastle’s Demba Ba to equalise and rescue a point.
And it was the visitors’ goalkeeper who stole the limelight with a string of top saves to deny the home side a dramatic win in the closing stages.
United created the first chance when HernÃ¡ndez combined with Rooney before the Mexican outwitted Ryan Taylor to create space for a shot – but his effort was easily collected by Krul.
And Newcastle, unlike many visiting teams at Old Trafford this season, displayed an adventurous steak with their dangerous quartet of midfielders looking to expose a vulnerable home defence.
One of the most intriguing battles of the afternoon was between ex-United winger Gabriel Obertan and Patrice Evra and the two Frenchmen sparred throughout the first half, with the Newcastle midfielder looking to expose Evra’s diminishing pace.
And after 16 minutes Newcastle finally manufactured their first shot on target.
Danny Guthrie’s speculative pass reached Obertan and the winger, after a series of dazzling step-overs, whipped in a cross. But Ryan Taylor, who had ventured forward from his right-back role, was unable to connect properly and David De Gea saved comfortably.
United looked passive and it took a flash point to spark Ferguson’s side into life.
After Rooney and Hatem Ben Arfa clashed, United moved up the gears and Nani’s run infield caused confusion amongst the Newcastle defence.
The Portuguese winger picked out HernÃ¡ndez but the striker lashed his shot over the crossbar.
Fabio then crossed for Ryan Giggs, whose deft prod towards goal produced a good save from Krul, who pushed the shot past the upright.
The home side finally made the breakthrough four minutes into the second half, albeit amid fortunate circumstances.
Rooney unleashed a half-volley which found its way past Krul after Steven Taylor’s hurried clearance bounced off HernÃ¡ndez and trickled into the net.
It was cruel punishment for the visitors, who had looked largely untroubled up until that stage.
But although there was an element of good fortune surrounding the home side’s opener, Ba’s 61st-minute equaliser was also enshrined with luck.
Rio Ferdinand made a challenge on Ben Arfa at full-stretch, conceding a corner. However, linesman John Flynn frantically signalled for a penalty, much to the disbelief of the United players – and Michael Jones pointed to the spot.
It was a calamitous decision but Ba kept his composure despite lengthy protestations from the home side and the Newcastle striker calmly slotted his effort past De Gea.
The injustice sparked United into life and they finally began to probe, with Nani accelerating down the right wing, poking the ball past Ryan Taylor and picking out Ashley Young in the area – but the England winger was denied by an excellent tackle from Taylor.
Referee Jones helped United’s cause in the 78th minute when he dismissed Jonas Gutierrez for a second infringement and Krul was on hand to deny Nemanja Vidic from the ensuing set-piece.
Newcastle’s forays forward became less and less frequent as they retreated deep into their own half, surrendering possession and territory to the defending champions, who were now desperately pressing for a winner.
With seven minutes left, a United corner fell to Evra, who unleashed an instinctive shot which was pushed past the post by Krul at full stretch.
And when the outstanding Dutch goalkeeper was finally beaten in the dying moments of the game Young was denied by the upright, before HernÃ¡ndez had a shot cleared off the line by Danny Simpson.
There was time for more dramatics in the final moments as the Mexican managed to put the ball in the net in the 94th minute after he got on the end of Gigg’s cross – but it was struck off by the linesman, who adjudged the striker to be offside by the narrowest of margins.
Manchester United: David De Gea, Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra (Federico Macheda, 88), Nemanja Vidic, Fabio (Chris Smalling, 94), Ryan Giggs, Ashley Young, Michael Carrick, Nani, Wayne Rooney, Javier HernÃ¡ndez.
Newcastle United: Tim Krul, Danny Simpson, Steven Taylor, Ryan Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini, Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa (Peter LÃ¸venkrands, 80), JonÃ¡s GutiÃ©rrez, Gabriel Obertan (Sammy Ameobi, 65), Danny Guthrie (James Perch, 74), Demba Ba.