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Business as usual
It was a typical Sunday for Manchester United in many respects.
Three points and yet another dominating win over Newcastle is par for the course when these sides meet.
Marcus Rashford was a crucial component in the Reds victory today with the opening goal and then drawing a penalty for United’s third.
The Magpies looked lost for large portions of this match but did find an equaliser through Allan Saint-Maximin.
The individual class of Man United won the day once again, as Daniel James got the game-winner in the second half.
Bruno Fernandes sealed it with a third from the spot.
United has now won four straight encounters against Newcastle, who’ve only won once in their last 36 games against the Red Devils.
The Reds have won 155 EPL matches now on Sunday.
Despite a relatively comfortable victory, it was anything but smooth sailing for the Reds in the first half-hour of this game.
United appeared jittery, with the back four looking anything but comfortable.
Fortunately, they were playing a Magpies team without Callum Wilson and lacking any quality upfront.
Marcus Rashford got the Reds out of their funk with a brilliant strike in the 30th minute.
United’s striker made a beautiful solo run, putting the ball between the legs of Emil Krafth before opening up some space and beating Karl Darlow with a nice near-post drive.
Steve Bruce’s side reacted well, though and found an equaliser six minutes later.
Joe Willock’s corner was headed clear by Harry Maguire but only as far as Allan Saint-Maximin, who fired a shot from 18 yards into the roof of the net past David de Gea.
The Magpies were able to hang on for the rest of the half as United began to carry the play.
In the 57th minute, the Reds regained their advantage.
Nemanja Matic made an excellent turn inside the box before trying to feed Bruno Fernandes.
The Portuguese got a touch to it as it fell to a wide-open Daniel James in acres of space. The Welshman fired home the go-ahead goal from close range.
With 15 minutes to play, Fernandes put the game to bed.
Marcus Rashford latched on nicely to the Isaac Hayden clearance, driving into the penalty area before getting taken down by Willock and earning United a penalty.
Bruno Fernandes fired home his 9th goal from the spot to make it 3-1.
The Magpies would not come close to troubling the Reds who climb back into second place with the win.
Man of the Match
Bruno Fernandes gets most of the attention from opponents and football writers, but today Marcus Rashford’s influence was paramount.
A very shaky start to this game for United, who never really got going until Rashford’s strike put them on the front foot.
The United man won eight duels and two fouls while creating one chance which led to the Bruno Fernandes penalty goal.
Rashford’s got four goals in his last five encounters with the Magpies.
He’s got seven-goal involvements against them in seven straight games.
Turning their season around
There’s still a long way to go for the Reds to catch Manchester City, but United’s come a long way since a rough opening to this campaign.
After losing three of their first six EPL matches, United’s lost just one of their last 19 Premier League encounters.
They’re very well-positioned to qualify for Europe next season, which for a club like United is an absolute must.
Scoring goals for Man United continues to come easily as they now have 53 in league play from 25 games.
That’s the most they’ve had at this stage of a top-flight campaign since the 2012-13 season.
It’s incredible to think a goal and an assist constitutes a quiet game, but it is for Bruno Fernandes standards.
Despite all that, United’s Talisman continues to show he’s among the best at his position.
With 15 goals and ten assists, he’s the third player in Europe’s top five leagues this season to reach double figures in both categories.
Tottenham’s Harry Kane (13G, 11A) and Bayern Munich’s Thomas Muller (10G, 10A) are the others who’ve reached that mark.
His goal from the penalty spot was his 34th in Man United colours.
What it means
United still trail Man City by 10 points, but this win moves them into second place on goal difference ahead of Leicester City.
For the Magpies, it’s turned into a dogfight to stay in the Premier League next season.
They’re only three points above Fulham in the last relegation spot at the moment.
Steve Bruce’s side has now lost eight of their ten Premier League fixtures this year.
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskajer said his team made some excellent adjustments after a slow start.
“We had to up the tempo a little bit, especially in the last third, and I felt we managed to do that. It is always difficult to get going after an away game in Europe.
“Even though we dominated possession and had a lot of the ball, we couldn’t create many opportunities. I felt in the second half; we found our positions better.”
Newcastle’s Steve Bruce felt his side had a couple of bad breaks, which cost them.
“It’s the second goal, isn’t it? A wicked deflection and a bit of luck, and the third one, it’s a very soft penalty. For 60 minutes, we gave as good as we got.”
United look to book their place in the last 16 of the Europa League on Thursday when they host Real Sociedad.
United hold a four-goal advantage over the Spaniards, heading into leg number two.
The kickoff from Old Trafford is at 8 pm.
Their next Premier League match is next Sunday at Stamford Bridge versus Chelsea at 4:30 pm. (JSL).