Manchester United 3-2 Newcastle United

Manchester United 3-2 Newcastle United. Rasmus Hojlund broke his 10-game scoring drought to seal victory for Manchester United in a thrilling Old Trafford encounter with Newcastle.

Anything other than a win for Erik ten Hag’s side would have condemned them to their lowest league finish in 34 years.

Instead, they go into the final day needing to better Newcastle’s result to claim a place in next season’s Uefa Conference League, although they will qualify for the Europa League if they beat Manchester City in the FA Cup final at Wembley on 25 May.

Kobbie Mainoo put the home side in front after 31 minutes when he applied a cool finish from 10 yards after being played onside by Kieran Trippier.

Anthony Gordon levelled four minutes after the restart and Manchester United needed a brilliant tackle from Sofyan Amrabat to stop them from going behind as Alexander Isak failed to finish a three-on-one counter.

Amad Diallo drove home his first Premier League goal just before the hour mark as Newcastle failed to clear a corner to put Manchester United back in front, although Eddie Howe’s visitors were inches away from an equaliser as Miguel Almiron just failed to turn home a low cross from the excellent Gordon at the far post.

It was left to Hojlund to settle home nerves, stepping to his right before sending a low finish into the bottom corner for his 15th goal of the season.

However those nerves still jangled a bit, as Newcastle left-back Lewis Hall fired home from the edge of the box in the second minute of stoppage time but the home side held on.

Newcastle need a final-day win at Brentford to be certain of a top-seven finish for the first time in two decades.

Newcastle’s appalling Old Trafford record gets no better and on the journey back to the North East they will reflect on a chance missed to get the draw they craved.

Even Manchester United, a team who have made an art form of tossing away winning positions late in games, could not be pegged back, despite Hall’s excellent injury-time effort.

Much of the damage was self-inflicted. There was simply no excuse for a player as experienced as Trippier, looking straight down the line to be so far back to allow Mainoo to score.

And then, having equalised, Newcastle pressurised Aaron Wan-Bissaka into an error, found themselves with three men up against a desperate Amrabat, who was alone in chasing back, and somehow failed to get themselves in front as Isak’s effort was blocked.

Gordon certainly did not deserve to be on the losing side and must have impressed watching England coach Steve Holland with his direct running and invention.

His low cross for Almiron should have brought Newcastle a goal but the Paraguayan could not apply the final touch at the far post.

He was inches away, as was Dan Burn’s first-half header that Casemiro headed off the goal-line just in time.

Newcastle have now won once in 29 visits to this stadium and European qualification now relies on the failings of others.

After all the grief he received for his positioning on Sunday against Arsenal, Casemiro was a surprise starter in central defence given Lisandro Martinez was available and had demanded to play against the Gunners.

Martinez’s conversation with Ten Hag before this game could only be guessed at and when the Brazilian wandered into midfield in the opening minutes and then gave the ball away to set up a dangerous Newcastle counter attack, the selection was under even greater scrutiny.

Yet rather than drifting out of the game, Casemiro delved into his vast experience to play a starring role for the remainder of the first-half.

Perfectly positioned to head Dan Burn’s header off the line barely a couple of inches before it became a goal, Casemiro then produced a brilliant tackle on Anthony Gordon that denied Newcastle a shooting chance with only Andre Onana to beat.

Howe was convinced his side should have had a penalty as part of that move and presumably shared the sentiments of Wolves in questioning the validity of VAR as Jarred Gillett opted against overruling Rob Jones’ on-pitch decision that Sofyan Amrabat had not illegally impeded Gordon.

Casemiro also went close with an overhead kick and when he sees the replays may wonder if Trippier will be subjected the same vilification as he has received over the past three days.

The overall outcome means Manchester United have something to play for on the final day, which did not always look like being the case.

And, as Ten Hag pointed out at the start of his side’s lap of appreciation, his side finish their season at Wembley in the FA Cup final against Manchester City, when he promised his side “will give everything”.

source – BBC