Manchester United 3-2 Newcastle United: Højlund helps the Red Devils past the Magpies in five-goal thriller

Rasmus Højlund’s 84th-minute match winner took the race for UEFA Europa Conference League qualification down to the final day of the season, as Manchester United beat Newcastle United 3-2 at the Theatre of Dreams.

As it happened

Having already beaten United this season in the Carabao Cup and in December’s reverse fixture, Newcastle flew out of the blocks with only Sofyan Amrabat’s last-ditch defensive interception denying the visitors the game’s opening goal. It did not take Erik ten Hag’s side long to have their opening sight of Martin Dúbravka’s net though, as Casemiro’s audacious overhead kick flew only inches over the crossbar.

Amad Diallo would call the Slovak keeper into action shortly after, as with regular number one Nick Pope sitting on the substitutes’ bench, he expertly extinguished the impending danger to keep the scoreline goalless. Dúbravka again came to Newcastle’s rescue on the fast approach to the half-hour mark at Old Trafford as he instinctively raced off his line to block Alejandro Garnacho’s effort.

Despite the shot-stopper’s heroics, Dúbravka was helpless to prevent United from taking the lead in the 31st minute as Kieran Trippier – making his first start in the Premier League since the beginning of March – inexplicably played Kobbie Mainoo onside, allowing his England teammate time to take a touch on the ball before slotting his shot into the net.

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Casemiro then saved André Onana and the hosts from conceding an equaliser before the sound of referee Rob Jones’ half-time whistle as he cleared Dan Burn’s goalbound header off the line.

On the winning side in four of their previous seven league matches away from St James’ Park, Newcastle needed almost no time at all after the restart to get back on track of registering another away day success, as Gordon netted from close range, courtesy of Jacob Murphy’s delicious delivery across the danger zone.

However, the visitors were only on level terms for nine minutes as Diallo celebrated restoring his side’s lead, and his maiden goal in the Premier League, with a fiercely-struck strike that left Dúbravka with no chance of making a save.

Substitute Joelinton thought he had brought Newcastle back onto a level playing field in the 67th minute, but Onana was up to the challenge as he prevented the Brazilian’s header from hitting the back of the net.

Another of ten Hag’s alterations appeared to have put the game to bed with six minutes left in regulation time, as Rasmus Højlund sublimely took the ball away from an incoming defender before finding the gap between the outstretched arm of Dúbravka and the far corner of the net.

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However, Newcastle defender Lewis Hall had other ideas of letting United relax throughout the concluding stages of the game, as he set up a grandstand finale under the lights at Old Trafford by exquisitely firing past Onana from the edge of the area. Unfortunately, for the travelling Toon Army, it only turned out to be a late consolation as Højlund and Co. held on to move level on points with Eddie Howe’s side but still trail Chelsea by three in the race for European football next season.

The lineups

MUN: Onana; Dalot, Evans, Casemiro, Wan-Bissaka; Mainoo, Amrabat; Garnacho, McTominay, Diallo; Fernandes

NEW: Dúbravka; Trippier, Krafth, Burn, Hall; Guimarães, Longstaff, Anderson; Murphy, Gordon; Isak

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