In Review

Man Utd find their mojo but blow their chance at Newcastle

Rooney and co shake off the boring tag, but also forget how to defend as they slide further down the table

Newcastle United 3 Manchester United 3.

Three goals but just one point for Manchester United as Louis van Gaal watched his side throw away a two goal lead against Newcastle, as the away fans were left to consider whether thrilling draws such as this are preferable to scratchy victories like the one over Sheffield United in the FA Cup.

Prior to Tuesday night's clash, the United manager had admitted that even he was bored by his side, whose 24 goals in 20 league games were proof of their sterility this season. United rediscovered their scoring touch at St James' Park but unfortunately they forgot that defence is also required, leaving Van Gaal stony-faced at the post-match press conference.

"We threw it away," he muttered. "I have told that to my players. We have to blame ourselves because we could have finished this match much earlier. We could have scored six goals easily here and we did not. Everybody knows it's our own fault."

The result means United have won just one of their last eight league games, a slump that has seen them slip down the table to sixth spot, eight points behind leaders Arsenal having played a game more. "We had to win and we didn't, we lost very expensive points," reflected Van Gaal, whose side could fall five points behind fourth-place Tottenham if they beat Leicester this evening.

United took the lead on nine minutes after referee Mike Dean awarded the visitors a penalty, judging that Chancel Mbemba blocked Marouane Fellaini's back-post header with his arm. Wayne Rooney made no mistake with his spot kick and the England striker - who looked razor sharp throughout - then had a hand in doubling United's advantage. His perfectly weighted pass into the path of Jesse Lingard enabled the winger to fire past Rob Elliot to make it 2-0 six minutes before the break.

But just three minutes later Georginio Wijnaldum pulled a goal back for the Magpies with his head and Aleksandar Mitrovic made it 2-2 midway through the second half. It was another penalty, this time awarded because of Chris Smalling's challenge on Mitrovic.

Newcastle weren't on level terms for long, however, with Rooney restoring United's lead on 79 minutes with a sweet strike after Memphis Depay's shot had ricocheted into his path. That should have secured the visitors a rare win but as the clock ticked into stoppage time Newcastle defender Paul Dummett stroked home the sixth goal of the night to earn his side a valuable point.

"It does feel like a defeat," admitted Rooney. "After scoring three good goals, it was maybe a lack of concentration and that is disappointing."

Van Gaal considered Dean's decision to penalise Smalling for his challenge on Mitrovic disappointing, complaining that he gave "a penalty for nothing, it is a duel". In truth, however, it was United's defence that was most disturbing on another unsatisfactory night for Van Gaal.

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