x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

United overcome battling Newcastle

Manchester United's manager Sir Alex Ferguson highlighted his side's grit after a hard-fought victory at Newcastle United.

Manchester United beat Newcastle 2-1.
Manchester United beat Newcastle 2-1.

Manchester United's manager Sir Alex Ferguson highlighted his side's grit, after they came from behind to re-establish their seven-point lead at the top of the Premier League table. After seeing Chelsea and Liverpool both win, United found themselves trailing at Newcastle within nine minutes of kick-off after goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar's long run without conceding a league goal came to an end. However, they bounced back to run out 2-1 victors at St James' Park to extend their winning run in the competition to 11 games. Ferguson said: "It wasn't a great performance. We got off to a terrible start, and Newcastle were pumped up for it. "We expected that and we should have dealt with it better. "But coming from 1-0 down was a good result for us. It required a lot of grit. "Our football has been better, and we were maybe careless with passing of the ball. "Newcastle knew it was a massive game for them and went about their job in the right way. "We could have been 2-0 down actually. (Obafemi) Martins hit one by the post, and it was a hairy spell for us." The Magpies stunned the visitors, and Van der Sar in particular, when they took the lead with the first league goal the Dutchman had conceded in 1,311 minutes of football since November 8. He failed to hold Jonas Gutierrez's shot, and Peter Lovenkrands eased home the rebound.

Ferguson said: "Edwin says himself he made a mess of it, and they had a couple of near things after that. "It was going to happen some time, and it is out of the road now." The lead lasted just 11 minutes, before Wayne Rooney blasted the visitors back on to level terms, but it was left to Dimitar Berbatov to clinch the victory after Park-Ji-Sung capitalised on Ryan Taylor's 56th-minute error to set him up. United were not at their best but never looked likely to surrender their advantage, despite a late flurry from the hosts. Chris Hughton is bracing himself for a dramatic end to a traumatic season but is convinced Newcastle can escape the drop. The caretaker boss took enough encouragement from the 90 minutes to believe they can avoid relegation after wins for Stoke, Tottenham and Hull left them just a point clear of the bottom three, with a crucial trip to Hull's KC Stadium next up. Hughton said: "It leaves us in a fight at the wrong end of the table, and it's going to be a fight that's going to take us right through to the last weeks of the season. "But on the back of a very disappointing result last week [at Bolton], our main object was to be able to bounce back. "We could have bounced back in two ways: one, by getting a result, which was always going to be very difficult against a Manchester United team in such good form and with such choices; but the one thing we wanted to do was put on a spirited enough performance. "It was a very disappointed changing room. It was a changing room that put on a spirited enough performance to get something from the game, and everybody who saw the game would admit that." *PA Sport