Red Devils down brave Toon
By Graeme Bailey. Last Updated: 24/04/05 5:10pm
Newcastle put up a brave display at Old Trafford but left with nothing as Manchester United claimed a 2-1 win.
The visitors looked resilient from the off and took the lead through Darren Ambrose after an error from Tim Howard.
Newcastle - thumped 4-1 by United in Cardiff just seven days ago - turned in a thoroughly improved display, but it was still not good enough.
A wonder-strike from Wayne Rooney - a volley from 25 yards - on the hour levelled matters before a rare Wes Brown header sealed maximum points for Sir Alex Ferguson's side late on.
Despite being without a host of first teamers, Newcastle started positively and although defending deeply were not solely intent on sitting back in their own half.
Shola Ameobi registered the first effort of the afternoon after just four minutes but Howard collected comfortably.
The Red Devils gradually warmed up to the pace of the game as Ryan Giggs began to stretch his legs and he could have easily opened the scoring on 11 minutes but he fired straight at Shay Given after Rooney's run dragged most of the visiting defence with him.
Ambrose flashed a stinging volley wide as Newcastle continued to show some intent in the opposition's half and it was fairly end to end stuff.
Rooney, a constant threat, should have put his side ahead after a great run saw him surge into the area. He beat Jean-Alain Boumsong with his pull back but his left footed effort was parried brilliantly wide by Given.
Newcastle's confidence grew especially as Howard in the home goal looked increasingly shaky. He allowed Alan Shearer to beat him in the air and it could have proved costly had Rio Ferdinand not been covering behind him, and then he dropped a simple cross under the challenge of Newcastle's legendary number nine.
It was still a shock though, when Newcastle took the lead through Ambrose just before the half hour - but it was little surprise that the goal came through a Howard error. The American fluffed a straight-forward clearance as he found Ambrose 25 yards out, the midfielder played a one-two of sorts with Ameobi before continuing his run into the area and firing coolly past Howard.
United pressed immediately as Giggs flashed a shot wide and debutant Peter Ramage sliced an Alan Smith cross and he was relieved to see it fly wide for a corner.
The home side then suffered a huge blow when Argentine Gabriel Heinze was stretched off after landing very awkwardly on his ankle and his season must now be in serious doubt.
Just before the interval and the home side were denied a penalty as Smith tangled with Andy O'Brien, the United players were insistent that a spot kick should have been awarded but referee Neale Barry waved away the protests.
United pushed forward at the beginning of the second half, but they lacked any sort of spark and it was evident why they had not scored in over six hours of Premiership football.
However, just before the hour - Rooney, who had been looking sluggish after picking up a knock in the first half, then registered a real candidate for goal of the season as he fired home from 25 yards. It was a defensive error from young Ramage as he looked to head clear, but the ball fell straight for Rooney who lashed home a wicked curling effort into the top corner leaving Given with no chance at all.
Newcastle still continued to believe and Ambrose broke immediately down the other end of the pitch and saw an effort deflected just wide and soon after Shearer saw a quick free kick claimed easily by a thankful Howard.
Shearer then had a great chance to put his side back in front as he beat Rio Ferdinand to a James Milner corner but the ball landed agonisingly over the bar.
Newcastle were if nothing buoyed by United's goal and Milner almost capitalised on a rare Roy Keane error as the Irishman failed to control a pass but the England-Under 21 star could not keep his powerful effort on target.
Brazilian Kleberson had been introduced for Fletcher for his first Old Trafford display since December and he almost marked his appearance with a goal, but he lashed a volley from the edge of the area over and then saw Given tip over a goalbound header.
From the resulting corner Newcastle hearts were broken as Brown held off Ameobi's challenge to rise and head into the corner - his first ever Premiership goal and only his second in his career.
Still Newcastle refused to lie down and they could easily have restored parity just moments later when Ameobi almost made amends for his defensive lapse as he found himself in space in the area but he fired his shot across goal and just wide of Howard's upright.
Late on United could have extended their lead as Given raced out of his area and cleared to Smith, his shot was going wide but Robbie Elliott's chest back to goal had to be well taken by Newcastle's number one.
Newcastle's 33 year wait for a win at Old Trafford continues, but it could have been so much different and their battling fully committed performance deserved something.
However, United took their chances and Rooney again showed how important he is for the home side and whenever he is around Ferguson's men can never be discounted.
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|Manchester United||Team Statistics||Newcastle United|
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|8||Shots on Target||5|
|8||Shots off Target||6|
Barclays Premier League
|5||West Ham United||18||31|
|15||West Bromwich Albion||18||17|
|16||Queens Park Rangers||18||17|