Newcastle United 1-1 Manchester United: Joelinton’s Patrick Vieira-esque display plus Cristiano Ronaldo’s nightmare

Wor Flags display ahead of Newcastle United’s Premier League clash with Manchester United. Wor Flags display ahead of Newcastle United’s Premier League clash with Manchester United.
Wor Flags display ahead of Newcastle United’s Premier League clash with Manchester United. | Getty Images
Newcastle United shared the spoils with Manchester United following a 1-1 draw at St James’ Park. Here, our writer Jordan Cronin takes a closer look at the key talking points behind the result.

It’s the morning after the night before - and Newcastle United fans will awake proud of their team’s performance against Manchester United.

A point apiece but it should have been all three for Eddie Howe’s side, who outplayed Ralf Rangnick’s Red Devils for large parts of the game.

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Allan Saint-Maximin’s opener was cancelled out by Edinson Cavani. But had it not been for an inspired David de Gea, Newcastle would have clinched their second victory of the 2021/22 campaign,

Here, our writer Jordan Cronin picks out the key talking points from the Magpies’ 1-1 draw at St James’ Park:

Joelinton - Newcastle’s £40m midfield bargain

Where do you start with this man’s performance? The Brazilian has been a revelation since Howe arrived and his display against the Red Devils was the best of the lot.

Signed (wrongly) as a centre forward before returning to a familiar wide position that saw him flourish at Hoffenheim - who’d have thought Joelinton is actually prime Patrick Vieira? OK, so maybe we’re getting a little carried away...

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The 25-year-old was tried as a deeper-lying central midfielder when the Magpies were reduced to 10 men early on versus Norwich City after Ciaran Clark’s red card.

Tasked with getting from box-to-box, he impressed so much that it convinced Howe to play him there against big guns Liverpool, Manchester City and Man United.

He hasn’t disappointed, far from it actually, with Joelinton swiftly becoming a cult hero among Toon fans.

In truth, he often put Man United’s midfield pairing of Scott McTominay and Fred to shame with his physicality and faultless decision-making.

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He was at the heart of everything good for Newcastle, creating three chances, completing four interceptions, winning the ball 11 times and carrying the ball forward on 13 occasions.

He was streetwise in possession - rarely losing the ball. One of the standout moments being his nutmeg on Diogo Dalot midway through the first-half.

Now, if United had paid £40million for Joelinton to feature as a central midfielder, based on recent performances, he’d be worth every single penny.

A special St James’ Park atmosphere

It was a very, very special atmosphere under the lights at St James’ Park- all that was missing was a deserved three points for Howe’s men and the terrific Toon Army on the terraces.

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The pre-match scenes were spine-tingling - orchestrated again by the fantastic Wor Flags - and the whole of Tyneside had lift-off when Saint-Maximin fired home a seventh-minute lead.

The home crowd drowned out a usually vocal Manchester United away support, who were left stunned by Newcastle’s spirit, intensity and belief.

That’s the thing you see, this is a Newcastle fanbase more unified and defiant than ever with Howe and new owners at the helm. When St James’ Park gets into full flight, it’s hard to think of a better place to play your football.

Ahead of the January transfer window, which players wouldn’t want to play in front of that support? A strong message sent by the Geordie faithful in front of the worldwide TV cameras.

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Cristiano Ronaldo’s evening to forget

Jeered and booed, and that was just in the shooting drill during the warm-up... Cristiano Ronaldo had an evening to forget in the North East.

Ronaldo has enjoyed playing against Newcastle in the past - scoring seven Premier League goals against them in total - but he didn’t get a sniff this time around.

Clearly desperate to get off the field as quickly as possible, the four-time Ballon d'Or winner headed straight down the tunnel at full-time without acknowledging the travelling fans.

His body language throughout was extremely telling. An all-round frustrated figure, who was perhaps unlucky to stay on the pitch after his high challenge on Ryan Fraser.

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The stats you don’t want to hear

For all the positives from Newcastle’s performance, naturally, given their defensive chaos this season, there were some not-so positive stats to follow.

Edinson Cavani’s second-half equaliser meant the Magpies broke Ipswich Town’s record for the most Premier League goals conceded in a single calendar year (80).

If that wasn’t enough, here’s a stark reminder that Newcastle have dropped 19 points from winning positions this season. Fine, fine margins.

Indeed, a lot of that against Man United was down to an inspired de Gea, who pulled off world-class saves from Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron in the second-half.

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Covid-19 and injuries leaves Newcastle stretched

Howe named six changes from the 4-0 defeat to Manchester City after confirming positive Covid-19 cases in the Newcastle camp.

Ciaran Clark, Matt Ritchie, Joe Willock and Karl Darlow were all unexpectedly absent from the squad, as was Isaac Hayden, who served a one-match suspension.

Freddie Woodman and Mark Gillespie - both goalkeepers - and young duo Elliot Anderson and Joe White were named on an eight-man bench.

Paul Dummett (calf), Federico Fernandez (thigh) and Jamal Lewis (hamstring) had already been ruled out prior to kick-off through injury.

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By full-time, Callum Wilson, Allan Saint-Maximin and Ryan Fraser joined Newcastle’s growing injury list, a big cause for concern in the battle for Premier League survival.

At present, it leaves Howe light of bodies ahead of the visit to Everton on Thursday night.

Whether the reunion with Rafa Benitez goes ahead as planned remains to be seen. Howe told Sky Sports: “I believe it’s 13 plus a goalkeeper (to have enough players for a game). We’re going to be dangerously close to that number.”

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