Newcastle United 1-1 Manchester United
Newcastle’s thrilling performance was only good enough for a point as a poor Manchester United scraped a 1-1 draw at St James’ Park.
Allan Saint-Maximin’s fine first-half goal had given Newcastle the lead in the seventh minute and they were well worth that advantage for over an hour as Ralf Rangnick’s side struggled.
But substitute Edinson Cavani scored a scarcely-deserved equaliser and it required some typical heroics from David de Gea to deny Miguel Almiron a late Newcastle winner.
While Manchester United escaped with a draw, the first dropped points of the Rangnick regime, Eddie Howe was left frustrated, a night of promise and hope ending with Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson injured.
The result was not enough to move Manchester United up the table – they stay seventh – while Newcastle remain one off the bottom in 19th, still two points from safety.
Amid an electric atmosphere at St James’ Park, Manchester United look hurried from the outset with their experienced centre-back pairing appearing particularly ruffled.
Harry Maguire’s error almost let in Ryan Fraser early on before Raphael Varane, in his first start since October, was punished after being dispossessed in the build-up to the opener.
Saint-Maximin found himself running at the Manchester United defence, cutting inside Maguire and, on the stretch, somehow poking the ball expertly into the corner of the net.
The tempo seemed too much for the away side at that stage, the rejuvenated Joelinton coming close to doubling the advantage with a shot that had De Gea scrambling.
Rangnick’s team had plenty of possession but the chances continued to come for Newcastle with Wilson even putting the ball into the net only to be adjudged offside.
The closest Manchester United came in the first half was through Mason Greenwood from Bruno Fernandes’ clever free-kick but Cristiano Ronaldo was offside and interfering anyway.
Jadon Sancho and Cavani replaced Greenwood and Fred at the interval but Saint-Maximin should have had his second from close range only to be denied by De Gea.
Any better contact on Emil Krafth’s low cross from the right would have been too much for the Manchester United goalkeeper but the squandered opportunity left the door ajar.
Rangnick’s team just looked unable to push through it. A lunge from Ronaldo that might have earned more than a booking. A miskick from Marcus Rashford. A dismal cross from Sancho.
But with the game wide open, there was always that chance of an equaliser and Cavani found it – scoring from the second attempt after Diogo Dalot’s right-wing cross.
The Uruguayan can appear like a magnet for the ball in the box and almost conjured a second goal soon after as Newcastle sat back, doubt creeping into their performance.
A promising night got trickier when Saint-Maximin went off injured, joining Wilson who had hobbled off earlier, sapping belief in a result – and perhaps Premier League survival.
But Newcastle refused to yield and came painfully close to a winner in the 88th minute when Jacob Murphy hit the post before Almiron drew a stunning save from De Gea.
Martin Dubravka almost blew it late on when dropping a high ball into the path of Sancho but a Manchester United win was not deserved. Both had to settle for an eventful draw.
Manchester United now host Burnley on December 30 at 8.15pm in the Premier League, while Newcastle are at Everton at 7.30pm on the same day.