Man United 2 Newcastle 1: Lessons as Red Devils reach the fourth round
Man United 2 Newcastle 1: What lessons did we learn as the Red Devils reached the fourth round with victory at Old Trafford?
Despite limited opportunities, the Brazilian midfielder has shown that he possesses the class to force his way into Sir Alex Ferguson’s first-team thoughts. A classy display in this cup clash will have done nothing to harm his chances, as he showed that his game is well rounded in all areas. His attacking play was the side that stuck out the most against the Magpies as he proved to be a thorn in their side. Inside the first 15 minutes, he looked sure to score after bursting into the box, only to be denied by an outstanding one-handed save from Rob Elliot. The reward did eventually come just before half-time as he shrugged off the attentions of Dan Gosling and lashed a long-range effort past the keeper’s despairing dive. Statistics suggest that the 24-year-old saves his goalscoring form for games at the Theatre of Dreams, with seven of his eight strikes coming at Old Trafford.
Elliot proves his class
Since signing from Charlton Athletic last summer, Elliot has found it difficult to displace the impressive Tim Krul, but he proved his quality against a strong Red Devils line-up. The 26-year-old pulled off two fine saves in the first half, from Anderson and Danny Welbeck, to frustrate the home faithful. In just his third appearance for the club, the keeper showed that he has the ability to become the next goalkeeping gem for the Magpies, following in the footsteps of Krul and Fraser Forster. Elliot repaid the faith shown in him by boss Alan Pardew, who will have a tough task in deciding who his number one is on this evidence.
Frontline fear for visitors
In a line-up which fused up-and-coming youngsters with players on the fringe of the first-team ranks, Ferguson chose a dangerous front trio of Danny Welbeck, Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernández. Rooney played in his typical fashion of trying to carve out opportunities for team-mates with an array of accurate passes. The former Everton man, who was playing in his first game since picking up a leg injury against Fulham last month, demonstrated this ability on 25 minutes. A raking pass from deep inside his own half found Welbeck, only for the latter’s powerful strike to be kept out. His impact on the United site cannot be underestimated with the 26-year-old scoring or assisting 36 per cent of their goals in the 2011/12 season. Mexican striker Hernández also had a pair of chances to double his season’s tally, but he failed to convert either of those. While most sides struggle to find one striker that can consistently reach double figures, the experienced Red Devils manager has an array of talent to choose from in the striking department.
Although he was only introduced as a 60th minute substitute, the Senegalese striker nearly made a game-saving impact for the visitors. Just 84 seconds after entering the fray, he connected with a teasing cross from fellow replacement Shane Ferguson to head past David De Gea. Unbelievably this was the first time that the 27-year-old, who scored 22 times in 34 appearances last season, had found the back of the net since a double in May’s victory against Chelsea. He almost added a spectacular second to level the scores in the 81st minute, as an improvised overhead kick struck the crossbar. His impact was not enough to help the away side end a 40-year wait for victory at this ground but this short stint will have given Newcastle fans a lot of hope that a repeat of his goalscoring exploits could be in the offing.