Cristiano Ronaldo twice had the ball in the net to no avail as Manchester United were held to a 0-0 draw by Newcastle United on Sunday.
The Red Devils were seeking a fourth successive win in all competitions since losing to Manchester City but could not find a way through a resilient Magpies side.
Joelinton spurned the best chance of the first half, heading against the woodwork twice in succession, while Antony was denied by Newcastle goalkeeper Nick Pope.
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Man United beat these opponents 4-1 in this game last season as Ronaldo marked his return to the club with a double, and the Portugal star twice put the ball in the visitors’ net in the second half here. A correct offside call intervened the first time, while the second saw him earn a yellow card after taking the ball and slotting it into the net after he suspected a Newcastle free-kick had been taken short.
The Red Devils dominated second-half possession but could not capitalise on their best two chances, Fred steering wide from Marcus Rashford’s cut-back with Pope out of position and Rashford himself heading past the left-hand post from inside the six-yard box with the final act of the game.
The result leaves these two teams separated by a point, with Man United having played nine games, one fewer than Newcastle.
Man United came from behind to beat Everton 2-1 in their previous Premier League match and missed several chances to kill the game off at Goodison Park. Against Omonoia Nicosia in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday, it took until second-half injury time for Scott McTominay to score the game’s only goal.
Against Newcastle, their relatively impotent attack cost them.
The Red Devils had 63 per cent of the possession – only slightly down on the 65 they managed in this fixture last season – yet they produced only two shots on target.
As Newcastle sat deeper and deeper in the second half, the onus was on the home side to pick their way through in the manner expected of an Erik ten Hag team. Instead, they resembled the Man United of Louis van Gaal’s second season, where it often seemed as though keeping the ball was more important than kicking it in the goal.
31 – Today was Manchester United’s 76th Premier League goalless draw, 31 of which have come since Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 (41%) – the most of any side in the competition since the start of 2013-14. Stilted. pic.twitter.com/cQUsbCemII
Sancho and Antony were industrious on the wings but Newcastle’s defence crowded them out with increasing ease as they cut in from their respective flanks. Ronaldo offered little impact for much of his 70 minutes on the pitch; his replacement, Rashford, wasted a simple chance to win it at the death.
It’s a concerning sign that, for all the money spent on their attack, they deeply missed the creative impact of free signing Christian Eriksen, ruled out through illness.
Before kick-off, former Man United manager Alex Ferguson presented special commemorative plates to Ronaldo and David de Gea to mark their respective achievements of 700 club goals and 500 Red Devils appearances.
If it felt like a blast from the past to see Ferguson and two of his best signings since the turn of the century clutching trophies on the Old Trafford pitch, the subsequent 90 minutes confirmed it: Ronaldo, and De Gea, are at risk of becoming relics.
❤️ United legends. #MUFC pic.twitter.com/OgbijbDNBr
De Gea had almost nothing to do by way of making saves, but his distribution – a key aspect of any keeper under Ten Hag – was hit and miss. He spoke before this game about wanting to stay at Old Trafford for many more years but, if he does, it might not be as No.1 for too much longer.
As for Ronaldo, he was little more than a bystander in the first half, unable to connect with the supply lines despite the best efforts of compatriot Bruno Fernandes, who was industrious but unable to conjure magic from nothing. Ronaldo did at least put the ball in the net twice in the second half, but he was offside by about the width of the River Irwell for the first, while the second was not allowed to stand despite his insistence — with some merit, perhaps — that Fabian Schar had taken a quick free-kick. “I don’t have a comment on the referee’s performance,” Ten Hag said afterwards, in such a way that brought to mind Jose Mourinho and preferring not to speak.
Ten Hag spared Ronaldo a substitute appearance in the 6-3 loss to Man City “out of respect for his big career”. As he trudged off after 70 minutes here, shaking his head, there will be plenty who wondered whether the right thing to do — for all concerned — would be to leave him out entirely against Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea next week.
FT: It finishes goalless at Old Trafford. Joelinton hit the woodwork twice in quick succession in the first half, but Man United could not find a way through despite dominating the second, with Rashford missing a golden chance right at the death. The final whistle was greeted with some boos by the home fans.
90+5 mins: RASHFORD! WHAT A MISS! Sancho passes back to Casemiro, who delivers a fine first-time cross to the far post. Rashford gets there first to head it back across goal, but it drifts wide of the left-hand post. That’s it for this game.
90+3 mins: Man United are camped in Newcastle’s half but there’s just no way through the white shirts. Antony’s shot is blocked, Dalot cuts infield but passes instead of shooting, and Fernandes can’t pick out a man in the middle.
90 mins: Jamaal Lascelles is on for Schar for the visitors. We’ll have a minimum of five minutes added time.
88 mins: THAT WAS THE CHANCE! Rashford races onto Bruno’s pass and gets there ahead of Pope. He cuts the ball back towards the penalty spot, where Fred is arriving, but he skews his first-time effort wide under pressure from Schar. It would have been a close offside call against Rashford, but he looked level. Big, big chance.
86 mins: Patient build-up from Man United but there’s no way through. The ball is cleared and Wood wins a free-kick near halfway to give his team a breather.
Final push 👊#MUFC || #MUNNEW pic.twitter.com/PtGGGTN11a
80 mins: Newcastle try something different from a corner: Trippier fires it low to Almiron on the edge of the box, but his first-time shot is well off target. At the other end, Rashford doesn’t get a free-kick, but Shaw does off Longstaff. It’s about 25 yards out, left of centre. Rashford has a go, but it’s about two yards over.
79 mins: Guimaraes wins a free-kick off Fred on the edge of Newcastle’s box. The visitors have defended extremely well today, restricting Man United to two shots on target despite them having 61 per cent of the possession. Guimaraes still seems to be feeling the effects of that Fernandes challenge, and he’s going off, along with Wilson and Burn. Matt Targett, Joe Willock and Chris Wood are on.
74 mins: Antony gets free of Burn down the right and charges for the box, but he tries to poke it left-footed into the middle and it’s blocked. That reluctance to use his right foot has been evident today.
71 mins: Ronaldo goes off! He’s on a booking and it hasn’t quite worked out for him today, but he shakes his head as he makes his way to the bench. Rashford gets a big cheer as he comes on. Ronaldo sits down, still shaking his head.
69 mins: Now it’s Casemiro who gets a yellow. He makes a great challenge on Joelinton but then leaps in to win the loose ball from Fraser. A booking is quite right — it wasn’t a good tackle. It looks like Marcus Rashford is going to come on for Man United.
66 mins: A better spell from Newcastle, and Fernandes goes into the book for catching Guimaraes on his heel. Trippier’s delivery is headed away by Varane, substitute Ryan Fraser lofts it back in, and Schar fouls Fernandes.
59 mins: Fernandes finds Shaw down the left but Trippier cuts out his cross, with Sancho waiting in the middle. More appeals for a penalty as Sancho goes to ground this time after cutting in from the left and being blocked by Longstaff. The Newcastle man definitely stuck out a foot, but Pawson let play continue. However, it’s gone to VAR… and the decision stands. No penalty.
54 mins: Ronaldo’s in the thick of it in this second half! Casemiro finds Fernandes, he slides it through to his compatriot, but Trippier comes across to block and it’s behind for a goal kick. Man United want a penalty and, in truth, it was a little clumsy from the Newcastle right-back, but referee Chris Pawson is unmoved. Apparently, so is VAR.
49 mins: What’s happened here? Ronaldo decided to nick the ball from Pope’s feet and score from the free-kick, claiming the set-piece had already been taken. The goal does not stand and Man United’s No.7 has been booked, presumably for his protest. A peculiar incident.
Time to kick on, Reds 👊#MUFC || #MUNNEW pic.twitter.com/PzUzYpsmZx
48 mins: Ronaldo has the ball in the net — but he’s offside, and he knew it. It was a nice one-two with Sancho that gave him the chance to slot beneath Pope, but he had been coming back from well behind the Newcastle defence when he received the ball.
46 mins: Here we go with the second half. Newcastle launch the first attack, but Murphy’s pass to Almiron to the left of the six-yard box is too heavy. Wilson then drags a shot wide after De Gea decided to pass to Fred despite three Newcastle players surrounding him.
HT: It’s been a well-matched half of no goals and few chances at Old Trafford. Antony had the best of them for the home side, shooting at Pope from close range, but Newcastle had by far the clearest opening of the first 45 minutes. Joelinton was unlucky to hit the bar with his first header, but he really should have buried the second.
45+2: A lovely spin into space from Antony and, this time, he charges down the wing. A poked cross towards Ronaldo is cut out by Botman, and when the ball is worked back towards the middle, Fernandes heads over. That’s that for the first half.
45 mins: Fernandes plays Antony into space, but there’s that concern some have pointed to before: instead of moving into the space down the right wing, he cuts back onto his left foot, and he’s only left with a hopeful cross towards Ronaldo that has too much on it. We’re into three minutes of added time.
43 mins: Sancho has been a positive for the home side. He’s looked a threat going forward and has just sprinted back superbly to cut out Almiron’s pass to Trippier and win a free-kick. At the moment, it’s hard to see where a goal is coming from.
39 mins: Antony is denied! Some good play from Fernandes as he controls a long ball from Murphy and then releases Sancho down the left. Sancho slips in Antony, but the Brazilian can only shoot straight at Pope from close range, with the angle a difficult one.
36 mins: Another stoppage as Joelinton is treated following another spell of players battling to keep the ball. Man United are yet to have a shot on target; Newcastle have had two, but neither was difficult for De Gea to deal with.
32 mins: Bit of handbags between Wilson and Martinez, there. These teams are cancelling each other out quite well and so it’s all turned a little bit scrappy, with neither side entirely in control. Both goalkeepers have just kicked simple balls straight out of play, as if to highlight that.
28 mins: Now it’s Man United’s turn to apply pressure from corners, but Newcastle deal with two Fernandes deliveries. Ronaldo, who’s barely had a kick, gets played in by a good ball over the top from Shaw, but he’s just offside.
25 mins: How have Newcastle not scored? Joelinton charges towards the box and gets tripped by Fred’s outstretched leg. The free-kick is in a dangerous position, around 25 yards out, just to the left of centre. Trippier hits the wall, volleys the loose ball back in, and Joelinton heads it onto the crossbar. He nods the rebound back towards the gaping goal but somehow only manages to hit the post, and it’s put behind for a corner.
Joelinton goes off the post TWICE! #MyPLMorning | #MUNNEW pic.twitter.com/vlLzEHB0tC
21 mins: Dalot, Fernandes and Antony combine but Botman slides in to clear and takes a bump on the head for his trouble. He’s receiving treatment but seems okay. The Newcastle fans are in fine voice over in the away corner.
19 mins: Casemiro and then Antony overhit diagonal balls into the box. It’s not quite clicking in attack for the Red Devils.
15 mins: It’s been a decent spell for Newcastle, but the home side do look dangerous when they break through that high press. Sancho this time has a go from 18 yards out but can’t keep his effort down, the ball having fallen his way when Fernandes’ pass to Ronaldo was just cut out.
11 mins: Newcastle appeal for a penalty as Wilson goes over the leg of Varane right on the edge of the box, but no foul is awarded. That incident came in between Diogo Dalot twice giving the ball away — it’s not been a great start for the Man United right-back.
8 mins: Martinez wins the ball back high up the pitch and Sancho releases Ronaldo. Fabian Schar comes across to block his cross, but he took an awkward tumble behind the goal line and is receiving treatment. He’s back on the field but moving a bit gingerly.
5 mins: Chance for Fred! Sancho drives into the box, Fernandes nudges the loose ball back to the edge of the box, but Fred slices his first-time shot wide. It’s interesting that, when Newcastle have the ball, Fernandes is sticking very close to Bruno Guimaraes, meaning Fred and Casemiro can concentrate more on patrolling the space behind.
KO: We’re underway at Old Trafford! Newcastle give an early example of the high press they’ve implemented under Howe; Shaw and Martinez exchange a few passes before finding a way out through Casemiro.
5 mins to KO: Ronaldo and De Gea are being presented their awards by former Man United manager Alex Ferguson — the last man, in case you need reminding, to lead the Red Devils to the Premier League title.
❤️ United legends. #MUFC pic.twitter.com/OgbijbDNBr
20 mins to KO: This could be an interesting game for Cristiano Ronaldo. His two goals in the 4-1 win at home to the Magpies just over a year ago had Old Trafford rocking, but things are different now: no longer undisputed first choice in attack, this is the veteran’s first league start since August, and the opposition are much stronger than they were in September 2021. Still, having marked his substitute appearance against Everton with his 700th club goal, you wouldn’t bet against Ronaldo making an impact against Newcastle — a team for which, according to some reports, he could become a transfer target…
𝟕𝟎𝟎 𝐜𝐥𝐮𝐛 𝐠𝐨𝐚𝐥𝐬.
What a beautiful number we’ve achieved together!
Thank you to all my teammates, coaches, clubs, family & friends and of course my fans.
United we continue! 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/oYWo766Xcl
40 mins to KO: Many observers might not have heard the name Kobbie Mainoo before. He was a star of the Man United side that won last season’s FA Youth Cup, and big things have been predicted for the 17-year-old midfielder. He played 45 minutes against Chelsea for the Under-21s only yesterday.
Here he is scoring a goal against Brighton & Hove Albion for the youth team:
A well-taken corner found Mainoo at the back post who volleyed it home in our #MUAcademy U21 game against Brighton 👏
Tune in to follow the action as it happens ⬇️#MUFC || #PL2
De Gea does start for his 500th United appearance — and Ronaldo is in the first XI, too. There are also recalls for Jadon Sancho, fit-again Raphael Varane, and Fred. Marcus Rashford is on a youthful-looking bench that includes 17-year-old Kobbie Mainoo, but there’s no Christian Eriksen in the squad. Erik ten Hag says Rashford and Eriksen have been ill.
🚨 Presenting the United line-up for #MUNNEW 👊#MUFC || #PL
Newcastle start with Joe Willock on the bench, as he has reportedly been unwell in the past few days. Joelinton starts in his stead in the Magpies’ only change from their win over Brentford.
How we line-up at Old Trafford this afternoon…
HWTL! ⚫️⚪️#MUNNEW // #NUFC pic.twitter.com/kiGADGfX33
80 mins to KO: Ronaldo is not even certain to start this match, but this will still be a special occasion for the forward: he’ll be presented with an award before kick-off to mark his achievement of reaching 700 club goals over his career.
David de Gea will also receive a commemorative plate ahead of what is expected to be his 500th appearance for the club, something only 10 other players have managed before. He’s even been given some special gloves by adidas.
Set to carve his name into United history ❤️#MUFC || @adidasFootball pic.twitter.com/fYIv77zVlY
100 mins to KO: This match last season saw the goalscoring homecoming of Cristiano Ronaldo, who netted twice in a 4-1 win for the Red Devils. Yet that was against a very different Newcastle; now, under the stewardship of Eddie Howe and backed by the astonishing wealth of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, they are very much a team on the up.
🔴 @Cristiano returned to Old Trafford in style in the previous #MUNNEW edition… #MUFC || #PL
120 mins to KO: We’re back at Old Trafford for Premier League action for the first time since September 4 as Manchester United host Newcastle United.
Cristiano Ronaldo starts in place of Anthony Martial, while Marcus Rashford drops to the bench and Christian Eriksen is out of the squad altogether. The hosts are still without Donny van de Beek (muscular), Aaron Wan-Bissaka (undisclosed) and Harry Maguire (thigh), while Scott McTominay, who scored the injury-time winner against Omonoia this week, is suspended.
Goalkeeper David de Gea is set to receive a special presentation on the pitch as he prepares for his 500th appearance for the club.
Manchester United lineup (4-2-3-1): De Gea (GK) — Dalot, Varane, Martinez, Shaw — Casemiro, Fred — Antony, Fernandes, Sancho — Ronaldo
Manchester United subs: Heaton (GK), Mainoo, Rashford, Lindelof, Malacia, Elanga, Iqbal, Pellistri, Garnacho
Striker Alexander Isak (thigh) is close to a return but will not be available at Old Trafford, while Emil Krafth is back in Sweden recovering from a knee injury. There was a major blow on Saturday when it emerged that Allan Saint-Maximin has suffered a setback after returning to action against Brentford and will also miss the game in Manchester.
Joe Willock is on the bench and is replaced by Joelinton in Newcastle’s only change from their previous match.
Newcastle United lineup (4-3-3): Pope (GK) — Trippier, Schar, Botman, Burn — Longstaff, Guimaraes, Joelinton — Almiron, Wilson, Murphy
Newcastle United subs: Karius (GK), Fraser, Lascelles, Targett, Lewis, Shelvey, Willock, Wood, Anderson
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UK: This match is not being broadcast in the UK. Highlights will be available later on Sunday through official broadcasters, including the BBC.
USA: This match will be televised on USA Network (English) and Telemundo (Spanish), and both channels can be streamed on fuboTV.
Canada: Every Premier League game streams live and on demand exclusively via fuboTV.
Australia: Fans in Australia can stream matches live and on demand on Optus Sport.
Given Newcastle’s poor record at Old Trafford — it’s been nearly nine years since they last won a league game at this ground — the bookies make Man United favourites for the three points.
Still, Newcastle’s thrashing of Brentford last time out, and the Red Devils’ difficulty in taking their chances against Everton and Omonia, make a low-scoring draw something of a tempting option.