Newcastle gave their survival hopes a huge lift as they stunned Manchester United 1-0 at St James’ Park on Sunday. Matt Ritchie scored the winner after 65 minutes, his first Premier League goal of the season, after Dwight Gayle’s clever lay-off found him in plenty of space to slot past David de Gea.
Anthony Martial had Manchester United’s best chances but he was denied by debutant goalkeeper Martin Dubravka in the first half and then saw two shots blocked on the line in quick succession in the 77th minute. Alexis Sanchez also saw an effort blocked after taking the ball past Dubravka.
The win is Newcastle’s first at home since October 21 and moves them out of the relegation zone into 13th place, while Manchester United stay 16 points behind leaders Manchester City. Defeat also leaves Manchester United embroiled in the battle for the top four, with only a six-point lead over fifth-placed Chelsea, who play West Brom on Monday.
Newcastle made a positive start as Jonjo Shelvey’s strike was pushed away by David de Gea and Ayoze Perez shot narrowly wide. But the visitors soon settled and Dubravka had to tip an effort from Jesse Lingard around the post before denying Martial when he was through on goal.
That was to be the best opening of the first half, with Martial also heading wide from a cross and Newcastle seeing strong penalty appeals waved away when Chris Smalling appeared to take out Dwight Gayle on the corner of the box.
Manchester United started strongly after the break and Sanchez spurned a chance to score the opener when he took the ball around Dubravka but didn’t shoot first time, allowing Florian Lejeune to get back and block.
Newcastle took the lead less than 10 minutes later. Smalling was booked for diving and, from the resulting free-kick, Lejeune headed across goal where Gayle laid off for Ritchie to fire in unmarked.
The advantage would not be relinquished despite strong Manchester United pressure, with Dubravka saving from Ashley Young and Martial seeing two shots blocked on the line after a corner fell to him six yards out.
There was to be one final chance with almost the last kick of the match but Dubravka capped a fine debut by reacting sharply to tip away Michael Carrick’s shot.