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West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
26 December 2012
• Old Trafford, Manchester
Referee: M. Dean
• Attendance: 75596
J. Evans 25'
P. Evra 58'
R. van Persie 71'
J. Hernández 90'
J. Perch 4'
J. Evans 29' (own goal)
P. Cissé 68'
So, Newcastle slip to 15th, while Sir Alex Ferguson enjoys a late Christmas present from Martin O'Neill's Black Cats to open up a big advantage in the league. I've been Tom J Doyle, that has been a Boxing Day classic, and stick around for all the match reaction and player ratings on Goal.com. Have a fantastic Boxing Day people.
Alan Pardew will be wondering just how his side have lost this one, but despite dominating the first half, they became visibly tired and were unable to prevent United from sneaking a winner. There's plenty left to play for, we could well be looking back on this day in May as the turning point of the title race.
What a game we've had here. Newcastle led three times, but Manchester take all three points in a 4-3 thriller to go seven points clear of champions Manchester City. Make no mistake, that is an absolutely huge result for the Red Devils today, and while the hosts were fortunate at times, they kept searching for a winner and Chicharito duly delivered.
90' + 9'
Coloccini fouls Van Persie in the back and the Dutchman stays down to eat up a few more seconds. And that's it!
90' + 8'
Anita is finally off the field, and Newcastle can ill-afford to lose yet another important player. The visitors are searching for an equaliser, and Simpson can only shank it wide from 25 yards. That could well be that...
90' + 6'
We won't have too long left, but as it stands, United are going seven points clear of Manchester City as the champions have lost 1-0 at Sunderland - how important could this be for the title hopes of both Manchester sides?
90' + 4'
We've had the additional four minutes but Anita is down injured for the visitors after a strong challenge by Valencia. It doesn't look good for the midfielder, and the stretcher is out. The Manchester United winger is perhaps lucky to still be on the field after that one.
90' + 3'
Spare a thought for Alan Pardew, who has seen his side score three goals, hit the woodwork twice, outplay United for long stretches, and yet still look to come away with nothing.
90' + 2'
90' + 2'
Chicharito leaves the pitch to a standing ovation as Darren Fletcher replaces him. He has missed on more than one occasion today, but is now the saviour following that last-gasp volley. From zero to hero in moments - that's the life of a Premier League striker.
Assist Michael Carrick
Goal Javier Hernández
YES THEY CAN!!! Hernandez surely nets the winner in what could prove to be a vital day in the destination of the title. Carrick delivered a delightful ball over the Newcastle defence, and the striker volleyed home past the onrushing Krul to send the home fans into delight. Simply sensational!
We'll have four minutes of injury time - can United find a winner....
Giggs finds Van Persie at the back post, but he heads wide from six yards under pressure from Santon. United have improved in the second half, but their finishing has been poor.
De Gea saves on the line from Ameobi, who rises highest to head at goal. This is end-to-end stuff...
Chicharito heads straight at Krul! Now it's Giggs' turn to find space, dribbling in the Newcastle area and lofting the ball to the Mexican, but he can't get enough power or direction and the keeper holds the ball.
Sammy Ameobi hits the post! Newcastle go close to a winner here as the forward works some space from 25 yards before trying to find the far corner. De Gea is beaten, but the ball rebounds off of the woodwork straight to the Spaniard. What a game this has been.
Evra cleverly wins a free kick out on the left wing after good tracking. Can United conjure up yet another late winner? They've come so, so close within the last five minutes, but you cannot miss chance after chance and get away with it.
Oh dear Chicharito. He's looked low on confidence all game and he somehow misses a free header from six yards after a brilliant cross from six yards. A truly astounding miss from a striker of his quality, and United could come to rue that.
So close for Van Persie! A glorious ball comes in over the top of the Newcastle defence, and the Dutch striker meets it with a gorgeous left-footed volley that slides just wide of the left-hand post. That would have been a spectacular finish.
Newcastle are lucky to avoid a penalty here as Chicharito shapes to shoot into the far corner, and Coloccini blocks the shot with a raised arm. The centre-back was a matter of yards away from the ball when it was struck, but his arm was surely too high to be accidental there.
United's tempo has improved since Tom Cleverely's introduction for Scholes. Ferguson wants his young midfielder to get in among the goals more often, and now would be a good time to start.
Looking back at replays there was a suspicion of a foul by Van Persie on Coloccini before Valencia found the striker in the area. The defender was furious, but United will perhaps feel justice has been done after the visitors' controversial second goal.
Oh Chicharito has to score here, but as he rounds Krul he cannot get the ball under control again and some desperate defending means the ball is cut away from danger. Can Newcastle hold on?
Assist Michael Carrick
Goal Robin van Persie
VAN PERSIE MAKES IT 3-3!!! Wow. The Dutch striker nets his 13th league goal of the season by finding the bottom corner of Krul's net after the keeper brilliantly denied him moments before. Two sublime finishes in as many minutes - this is a festive feast of football.
Assist Gabriel Obertan
Goal Papiss Cissé
CISSE SCORES!!! Great goal for the Newcastle striker as he lashes home expertly from 12 yards following a fine run and pass from Gabriel Obertan, who left Old Trafford for St James' Park not long ago. It's 3-2, and we're set for an enthralling last 20 minutes.
Scholes has a rare moment of indecision and plays a poor pass back to De Gea, but the Spaniard is off his line well to clear with Cisse bearing down on him.
Smalling finds space in the Newcastle box at the back post but his shot is well blocked and out for a corner. United have dominated the last 10 minutes, and are just turning up the heat on the visitors a little.
Yellow Card Papiss Cissé
Cisse is the latest player to earn a caution after a cynical tackle on Evra. It's not been a particularly dirty game, but neither side is about to stop battling for the three points.
Yellow Card Danny Simpson
Simpson is booked for a late tackle on Evans here - so late in fact that he ended up slide-tackling the centre-back's shoulder. United players crowd the referee and want a red, but the weather had a part to play there as well, and it's a sensible yellow.
Goal Patrice Evra
EVRA EQUALISES!!! It's 2-2, and the Manchester United left-back cannot stop scoring - and this could well be his best goal for United yet. Newcastle only partially clear from a corner, and the captain drives at goal from 25 yards out before unleashing a low drive into Krul's bottom-left corner. Krul should have kept it out, but United are delighted.
News is filtering through that Sunderland have gone 1-0 up at home to Manchester City. That will be of some comfort to Ferguson, but if the champions are losing, a victory today would be even more important in terms of opening up a crucial gap.
Giggs threads the ball through for Chicharito, who is bundled off the ball in the area by Coloccini. The home fans cry for a penalty, but it was simply good strength shown by the visitors' captain there.
Yellow Card Antonio Valencia
Danny Simpson races to meet a ball and gets there first, but Valencia is late and catches him on the ankle. A nailed-on booking for the winger, who is visibly frustrated by events here today.
De Gea punches the ball at a crowded corner, but it's not that convincing from the keeper, who may well see his place in the side under threat again from Anders Lindegaard.
United are looking a little ragged already as they search for an equaliser, and are in danger of being caught high up the pitch by a rampaging Newcastle midfield. You get the feeling they'll either win it, or could well lose by two or three goals.
United show better build-up play as Chicharito finds Carrick in the middle, who picks out a nice ball for Giggs on the left. The Welshman pulls back a cross for Van Persie, but the striker can only hook it wide of Krul's right-hand post from eight yards.
As it stands United are still three points ahead of rivals City, but if Roberto Mancini's men find a result at Sunderland the lead could be cut to just one point. Surely they won't throw away another golden league lead like they did last year?
We're back underway at Old Trafford, and Ferguson is absolutely furious with the officials over Newcastle's second goal, berating the referee and his assistants as the teams come out for the restart. We may hear some choice words from the United manager if his side don't get a result here.
That's the first 45 minutes over and done with, and Newcastle lead 2-1 against Manchester United. The visitors are good value for their lead, and Sir Alex Ferguson will have to come up with something special at half-time. However, the lack of options on the bench means it could be a long afternoon for the league leaders.
Demba Ba has given Evans and Ferdinand a real task today - he hasn't let up for a moment and United's centre-back pairing have struggled to cope with his physicality. How Ferguson must have wished for a fully-fit Nemanja Vidic today.
The free-kick is some way out and Van Persie fancies an effort, but he can't find the target. It'll need to be better from the Dutch striker.
Yellow Card Mike Williamson
Giggs drives at goal and is brought down by Williamson, who gets a deserrved booking. The Welshman was rolling back the years there with a trademark dribble, but he'll have to roll back a few more to lead United to three points here.
You'd have to say on the balance of play the away side really do deserve the lead, and could well be out of sight already. What can Ferguson say at half-time to get a reaction from his players? It's wet out there, but they're probably not looking forward to this particular hairdryer...
Marveaux hits the bar! Great effort from the midfielder and he's unlucky not to find the net from 20 yards with De Gea forced to stand and watch the curling effort strike the woodwork and bounce away. United survive for now.
Yellow Card Javier Hernández
Danger here for United as Hernandez trips Marveaux just outside their penalty area. A third right now could really put the home side under pressure...
Yellow Card Jonny Evans
It was all looking so good for Evans 10 minutes ago. Since then, he's scored an own goal and just been booked for a deliberate handball. How times can change...
Davide Santon drives a low effort at De Gea, who parries and collects the ball with Cisse lurking for a tap-in. That was better from the keeper, but he will still be kicking himself for the opening goal.
What a game we have on our hands here! Has there ever been a shorter period between a player scoring at either end? Can United rescue yet another match from the jaw of defeat? We'll find out soon enough...
Own Goal Jonny Evans
NEWCASTLE ARE BACK IN FRONT!!! Evans has scored an own goal mere moments after getting his side level. It is disallowed for offside, with Papiss Cisse straying next to the defender. But Mike Dean isn’t sure, and after consulting with the linesman, who ought to have had the decision sussed in the first place, gives the goal. Farcical scenes at Old Trafford.
UNITED EQUALISE!!! It's Jonny Evans who gets the goal for the home side, just days after signing a new deal at the club. Ryan Giggs flicked on a free kick, JChicharito had the follow-up saved before the defender bundled in from six yards. There is a suspicion that the defender may have been offside in an early phase of play.
Goal Jonny Evans
United are working hard, but it's not happening for them at the moment. Will they slip further behind Premier League champions Manchester City today?
We're 20 minutes in here, and free-scoring United have failed to register a single meaningful effort on goal. With few options on the bench, Ferguson will have to hope those players already on the pitch can improve on their poor opening.
Newcastle fans think the ball is in the net, but De Gea keeps the ball on the line and the home fans cheer ironically. They certainly won't be cheering if Newcastle do find another goal though...
The home crowd are singing their tried-and-tested 'Five Cantonas' Christmas jingle, but there is audible frustration as Carrick has struggled on more than one occasion to find a team-mate.
Scholes picks out Valencia at the back post with a lovely ball, and although the winger pulls the ball out of the air and back into the danger area, Krul comes to collect before Chicharito can get his head to it.
Newcastle are more than holding their own at Old Trafford here, looking strong at the back and dangerous on the counter as United search for an immediate response to Perch's strike.
There's a few Newcastle fans in black and white Santa outfits in the crowd, and they're in fine voice. It looks like we've got a fine game on our hands after just 10 minutes of action here.
Now it's United's turn to attack as Chicharito gets forward on the right wing, but can't find Van Persie in the middle as the cross is out of reach for his strike partner. Better though from the hosts.
That was Perch's first ever Premier League goal by the way - and what a place to get it. You couldn't ask for a better Christmas present as a professional footballer really.
Goal James Perch
GOAL FOR NEWCASTLE!!! They're 1-0 up as James Perch nets from close range but it's a disaster for David de Gea. Ba picks up the ball after poor control from Carrick, and the keeper can only parry his long-range effort straight into the path of the midfielder who slams into the net from six yards. Really poor from the Spanish keeper there, and the visitors take a shock lead.
Michael Carrick looks for the run of Chris Smalling in behind at right-back, but the ball is cut out before any real danger occurs. The England midfielder has been in fine form of late, and he will be called upon to provide energy in the middle today.
We're underway and the home side immediately give the ball away under pressure and Van Persie fouls Perch. The free kick comes in and Ba has a chance to strike it, but completely miscues his volley and the danger subsides. Ferguson will be hoping that isn't a sign of things to come.
The teams are out, with United in their traditional red and the Magpies sporting a neon yellow number. It's looking very wet out there, damp enough for Ferguson to slink off to the dugout with his hood up. With that make it easier for United to put together slick passing moves, or will some of the older heads be feeling their Christmas lunch after an hour or so?
We're getting close to kick-off now, and it'll be fascinating to see how the age and wisdom of Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs matches up against the speed and strength of Vurnon Anita and James Perch in the middle.
However, frustrating United is easier said than done when you're facing the likes of Robin van Persie, Chicharito and Antonio Valencia. The Netherlands international has 12 in the league so far, and with five in his last seven against Newcastle, you'd fancy him to score today.
So with Rooney and Ashley Young injured and Danny Welbeck ill, it would be fair to say that the home side's attacking options look a little limited. The most forward-thinking player on their bench is Tom Cleverley, so Pardew's men may fancy this one today if they can frustrate the league leaders early on.
Newcastle: Krul; Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon; Perch, Anita; Marveaux, Bigirimana, Cisse, Ba. Subs: Elliot, Tavernier, Ferguson, Obertan, Sammy Ameobi, Campbell, Shola Ameobi.
The team news is in... Manchester United: De Gea; Smalling, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra; Valencia, Carrick, Giggs, Scholes; Chicharito, van Persie. Subs: Lindegaard, Vidic, Buttner, Wootton, Cleverley, Fletcher, Tunnicliffe.
I'll try and keep the festive puns to a minimum today, promise. As for the game today, the Red Devils saw their lead slip at the top of the table to four points after a 1-1 draw away to Swansea, and Sir Alex Ferguson has reacted by dropping Wayne Rooney from today's squad altogether. Alan Pardew meanwhile will be hoping Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse can bully United's leaky defence and steal the points for his side.
Good afternoon and welcome to the Goal.com LIVE commentary of Manchester United - Newcastle at Old Trafford. I'm Tom J Doyle and I'll be taking you through all the action today - let's hope it's a post-Christmas cracker...
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