Newcastle 0 Manchester United 0
United stretched their lead at the top of the Premier League but only by a further point after drawing 0-0 at St James Park.
After the disappointment of losing at Wembley, to Manchester City, Sir Alex Ferguson shuffled his starting eleven for the fixture tonight.
Wayne Rooney returned form suspension to partner a recalled Javier Hernandez up front. In defence Chris Smalling came in for Rio Ferdinand whilst in midfield with Paul Scholes suspended Sir Alex opted to go for Ryan Giggs and Anderson with Park and Valencia missing out. Dimitar Berbatov, who played at Wembley, didn`t even get a spot on the bench.
Team - Van der Sar, O`Shea, Smalling, Vidic, Evra Nani, Carrick, Anderson, Giggs, Hernandez, Rooney
Subs - Kuszczak, Owen, Park, Fabio, Evans, Valencia, Gibson
United got the action underway and four minutes into the game could have taken an early lead. Rooney raced on to a ball over the top and his cross looked destined for Hernandez but Krul, in the Newcastle goal, got down superbly too pull off a great save.
Newcastle responded with an attack of their own that saw Gutierrez skip past Nani and Carrick only for his shot to be deflected behind. From the corner Van der Sar did well to save Ameobi`s shot at the far post. Van der Sar then did well to get down to make a good save from a Tiote long range drive.
United tried to respond but an attack came to an abrupt end when Hernandez was adjudged to have committed a foul when the corner came over. Our hosts continue dot look dangerous and when crosses were thrown in United looked vulnerable, one cross saw Ameobi head wide.
Hernandez, looking sharp, drilled a shot a couple of feet wide from distance. The Mexican then set up Rooney but the striker dithered trying to get it on his other foot and lashed his well over the bar. A chance wasted?
Giggs upended Gutierrez but the free kick, from twenty-five yards out was curled into the arms of Van der Sar by Barton. Nani then tumbled in the box, after a challenge by Gutierrez but a penalty would have been a harsh decision. Guterrez shot wide at one end and Hernandez found the arms of Krul with a header.
As half time approached United looked to be slowly taking control of the game, pushing Newcastle back with Carrick in fine form but Newcastle, courtesy of another free kick, tested Van der Sar but the Dutch keeper saved Barton`s effort.
As half time approached Newcastle engineered another chance when a Baron assist found Lovenkrands but the Danish striker headed wide.
Half Time - Newcastle 0 United 0
United took to the pitch some few minutes ahead of their hosts. Early on United forced a couple of corners but neither came to anything. A third corner saw O`Shea flick the ball on but Newcastle scrambled it clear. United continued to increase the pressure and Nani produced a cross that saw Giggs head into the arms of Krul.
Nani then fired high and wide after manufacturing a chance. Lovenkrands, in a similar fashion to Nani, tried to win a penalty but the referee was having none of it. The same player then headed over under pressure for the United defence as our hosts started to get back into a second half that we`d started the better.
Krul then saved easily as Rooney tried his luck from some distance. United then had a glorious chance to open the scoring when Hernandez played in Evra and when his pass to Giggs fell perfectly the Welshman put his effort wide.
Newcastle, having introduced Ireland, the saw the ex-City player shoot narrowly wide. With fifteen minutes left Vidic needed treatment to a cut eye. Williamson brought down Nani some twenty-five yards from goal. Giggs saw his free-kick deflected for a corner and from the resulting corner Nani saw his shot flash just past the post.
As the game looked to be heading for a tame draw Rooney fired a shot high and wide and Michael Owen came on to face his old club but United couldn`t force that breakthrough and the spoils were shared despite four minutes of stoppage time being played.
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