Manchester United’s top-four bid continues to stutter after they slipped to a deserved 2-0 defeat against rivals Newcastle at St James Park.
Roared on by a raucous home crowd Newcastle looked the better of the sides right from the start, with Eddie Howe’s team brimming with attacking intent. The St James Park faithful thought their side had taken the lead after 15 minutes only to see Man United ‘keeper David de Gea pull off a superb double stop to deny Alexander Isak and Joe Willock.
Willock missed a golden chance to open the scoring five minutes before the break, the English midfielder blazing over after some brilliant work from Isak and Allan Saint-Maximin.
Erik Ten Hag’s Man United lacked quality in the final third and ended the first-half without a single shot on target. Brazilian winger Antony’s feeble effort early in the second half did change that stat, although Newcastle remained the side who looked most likely to score.
Then in the 65th minute, it was a case of third-time lucky for Willock when the 23-year-old headed his side in front. Saint-Maximin did well to head a Bruno Guimaraes delivery back across goal and Willock was left with the simple task of glancing home from close range.
Ten Hag emptied his bench in search of an equaliser, but Newcastle continued to dominate and deservedly killed the game off in the 88th minute when Callum Wilson headed home a Kieran Trippier free-kick.
🚨🎙️| Erik ten Hag on the loss: “They wanted to win the game more than we did.” [Sky] pic.twitter.com/8my6UkUveh
— centredevils. (@centredevils) April 2, 2023
Newcastle’s victory means they now leapfrog United in third place as the race for the top four heats up over the final stretch of the season.
Man United’s Dutch coach admitted Newcastle had simply wanted to win more than his side, although he did tip his squad to bounce back from this disappointing defeat.
“I hate to say it but they were better today – especially their determination, passion and desire. They wanted to win more so they won,” Ten Hag told Sky Sports.
“We had our opportunities but then you have to go for goal with the determination they did. It wasn’t good enough. We allowed them too many chances. You have to be hungry and give everything every game.
“Our attacking game wasn’t good enough. I don’t want to focus on one person. It was a team performance.”
“We have to deal with the setback and learn a lesson. So many times recently, we came back after Liverpool. I don’t have that concern. I believe in the team. I believe we’ll bounce back.”