Downbeat Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal blasted his players for surrendering the opportunity to go level on points with fourth-placed Tottenham after twice being pegged back by Newcastle during a thrilling clash at St James’ Park last night.
Defender Paul Dummett rescued a last-gasp point for the hosts after skipper Wayne Rooney restored United’s lead with his second goal of the game. Georginio Wijnaldum and Aleksandar Mitrovic had earlier hauled the hosts level following Jesse Lingard’s strike to make it 2-0.
United slipped to sixth in the Premier League, two points adrift of Spurs, who occupy the final Champions League position, after being overtaken by West Ham, while 18th-placed Newcastle remain firmly fixed in the relegation mire.
“We threw it away. You have to finish the game already much earlier,” said Van Gaal. “There were big possibilities and of course when you then lose two points that is very, very sad. Everybody knows it is our own fault.
“Of course it feels like a defeat. We have given it away and I have told that to my players. We could have scored six goals easily here and we did not. If we had, it would have been three successive wins at the start of the year going into Liverpool [on Sunday].
“I do not agree with the analysis of many people [accusations or being boring] because we always attack, but I have to live with it, I have to cope with it, my players have to cope with it.”
United had lost just two of their previous 26 league showdowns with Newcastle and Rooney slid home a ninth-minute penalty after Marouane Fellaini headed the ball onto Chancel Mbemba’s arm and the Congolese was adjudged to have handled.
In complete contrast to recent performances, United attacked with panache as Rooney cut inside Argentine centre-half Fabricio Coloccini in the 38th minute before a deft reverse pass released Lingard, who finished through the legs of Rob Elliot.
Newcastle replied before the break when Coloccini’s clipped ball into the penalty area was purposefully headed by Mitrovic into the path of the onrushing Wijnaldum and the Dutchman dispatched a composed volley beyond David de Gea.
Mitrovic levelled in the 67th minute with a calm spot-kick after Chris Smalling was penalised for grappling the Serbia hitman, although Rooney’s 14th Premier League goal against the Magpies hinted at United’s first away win since November.
Substitute Memphis Depay was the architect as he cut inside from the left with 11 minutes remaining, and while his shot was blocked, the ball rebounded to Rooney who unleashed a nonchalant attempt from outside the penalty area into the top corner.
But Newcastle, who yesterday signed midfielder Jonjo Shelvey from Swansea for £12m, refused to die and Dummett rifled a thunderous left-footed effort from the edge of the penalty area, which took a deflection off Smalling, high into De Gea’s net.