Man Utd stumble again

February 12, 2018
Manchester United's Antonio Valencia (left) and Newcastle United's Christian Atsu clash during their English Premier League match at St James' Park, Newcastle, England, yesterday. Newcastle won the game 1-0.

NEWCASTLE, England (AP):

JosÈ Mourinho tripped up again at St James' Park, as his Manchester United team were surprisingly beaten 1-0 by Newcastle yesterday for a second loss in their last three Premier League games.

Matt Ritchie's 65th-minute goal - following a free-kick awarded for a dive by United defender Chris Smalling - gave Newcastle a victory that lifted them out of the relegation zone.

It is now seven Premier League matches without a win at Newcastle's ground for Mourinho, who lost three and drew three there across two stints in charge of Chelsea.

More importantly for the Portuguese coach, second-place United wasted a chance to pull clear of their rivals for Champions League qualification, with Tottenham, Liverpool, and Chelsea still in range. Manchester City, which beat Leicester 5-1 on Saturday, hold a 16-point lead with 11 games left.

Newcastle goalkeeper Martin D?bravka had a Premier League debut to remember, saving brilliantly in the first half from Anthony Martial, in the final seconds from Michael Carrick, and looking assured as United piled on the pressure in the second half.

Alexis S·nchez delayed his shot in front of an open goal and saw his effort blocked, while Martial also had two efforts blocked near the goal line by Dwight Gayle.

"They fought like animals," Mourinho said.

"They gave their lives to keep a clean sheet," he added. "It was not only them, but the gods in football."

Newcastle had barely troubled United - except for an early long-range shot by the impressive Jonjo Shelvey that was tipped aside by goalkeeper David de Gea - until the goal.

Smalling lost possession and then dived, thinking Shelvey was about to challenge him. The defender was given a yellow card and, from the resulting free kick, Shelvey's cross was nodded down Gayle deftly flicked the ball to the incoming Ritchie, who stroked a left-footed finish into the corner for his first goal of the season off his 44th shot.

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