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Rom' and Rash' keep Ole happy

Newcastle 0 Manchester United 2

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Winning streak: Marcus Rashford celebrates scoring Manchester United’s second goal at St James’ Park last night

Winning streak: Marcus Rashford celebrates scoring Manchester United’s second goal at St James’ Park last night

Breakthrough: Romelu Lukaku opens the scoring for Manchester United with his first touch of the game in last night’s win at Newcastle

Breakthrough: Romelu Lukaku opens the scoring for Manchester United with his first touch of the game in last night’s win at Newcastle

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Winning streak: Marcus Rashford celebrates scoring Manchester United’s second goal at St James’ Park last night

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows all about the importance of using your substitutes and so it proved as Romelu Lukaku came off the bench to help earn Manchester United a fourth victory in the first four league matches under him.

Lukaku was only on the pitch for 40 seconds before he scored with his first touch, before Marcus Rashford added a second, and this result also came with a first clean sheet for Solskjaer.

Importantly for United it closed the gap to fourth-placed Chelsea to six points in that vital race for a Champions League place.

Newcastle sensed a vulnerability in United's orders to play the ball out from defence with Phil Jones, replacing the suspended Eric Bailly, one of three changes, clearly being targeted. Twice Jones erred.

The pace of Christian Atsu was also a problem for the visitors; as was the space he was afforded.

Cross

Twice he forced saves - comfortable enough, in truth - by David de Gea before he sprinted through on the left and dragged a shot across goal after being picked out by Ayoze Perez.

For United, Marcus Rashford carried their greatest threat and having already forced Martin Dubravka to push out a near post free-kick the goalkeeper had to react quickly to deny the striker after Fabian Schaar missed a simple long ball forward.

Soon after and Anthony Martial miscued a half-volley onto the roof of the net before Paul Pogba also failed to make sufficient contact after he was teed up on the area's edge.

Newcastle kept their shape, defended strongly, led by Jamaal Lascelles, but were indebted to Dubravka once again as he reacted quickly to deny Juan Mata with his legs as he threatened to run onto a loose ball inside the area and round the goalkeeper.

It remained tight in the second period; cagey and predictably so. As Martial tried to pick out a team-mate with a cross there were nine Newcastle players waiting inside their own area while play was also broken up by a series of injuries and hold-ups. As strongly as they defended, blocking out Shaw and Rashford, Newcastle still carried a threat of their own and once again Atsu found the space.

This time he crossed low with the ball just running ahead of Rondon. Soon after and Shaw slid in to stop a Perez shot with Newcastle unsuccessfully calling for a penalty as Lindelof barged Atsu.

Charging

The frustration grew for United with Matt Ritchie shouldering Rashford out off his stride as he attempted to reach a threaded pass. Solskjaer had seen enough and made a double change. Lukaku and the -surprisingly - fit-again Alexis Sanchez came on.

It worked. Rashford fired in a free-kick and although the ball moved Dubravka had to hold on to the shot but spilt with Lukaku charging in to side-foot home the rebound. It was his first touch.

Rafa Benitez will surely reflect on why his team only mounted a two-man defensive wall. Yet another chance fell to Atsu but although he forced De Gea into a dive, the ball flew wide. As Newcastle pushed they lost the ball with United breaking quickly through Lukaku and Rashford with Sanchez also joining in.

He pushed the ball through to Rashford who had drifted free and calmly side-footed the ball past Dubravka to settle it.


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