Rashford continues scoring spree in 8/10 showing as Man United beat Newcastle
NEWCASTLE, England -- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made it four wins from four as Manchester United manager with a 2-0 victory over Newcastle at St. James' Park on Wednesday.
Romelu Lukaku came off the bench to score with his first touch in the second half before Marcus Rashford wrapped up the points in the closing stages with his third goal in four games under Solskjaer. The result helped United close the gap with the top four to six points after Chelsea were held at home by Southampton.
Solskjaer has been pleased with the goals, but he has made a point of demanding a clean sheet as well. Against Newcastle he got his first as United manager, and in truth, David De Gea had very little to do. United had conceded from a set piece in each of Solskjaer's first three games, but they looked more solid against balls into the box even with the physical presence of Salomon Rondon to deal with.
Antonio Valencia has not played a lot of football in the past three months, but he would have hoped to make more of his chance against Newcastle. He had plenty of space to run into with Juan Mata cutting inside but struggled to make the most of it. He didn't do much to show he should be ahead of Ashley Young or Diogo Dalot in the pecking order.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- Solskjaer's team had started to struggle when he threw on Lukaku, and it paid off immediately. His second substitute, Alexis Sanchez, also made an impact by setting up the second for Rashford. You can't ask for much more as a manager than having your decisions impact games, and Solskjaer's changes helped win the game.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK David De Gea, 7 -- Got down well to make two saves from Christian Atsu in the first half and did not have much else to do to keep a clean sheet.
DF Antonio Valencia, 5 -- Making his first Premier League start since September. Didn't let right wing-back Matt Ritchie get forward but could have pushed on himself more often.
DF Luke Shaw, 7 -- Made one full-length challenge to deny Ayoze Perez after he was given a sight of goal by Jonjo Shelvey's lovely pass with the score still at 0-0.
DF Phil Jones, 6 -- Back in the team because of Eric Bailly's suspension. Caught on the ball to gift Rondon a chance in the first half but made up for it with a fantastic recovery challenge.
DF Victor Lindelof, 7 -- Had a couple of nervous moments alongside Jones but defended well. Wasn't allowed to step out of defence with the ball as much as he was in Solskjaer's first three games.
MF Nemanja Matic, 7 -- Gave the ball away once or twice in the opening stages but recovered to have another encouraging game, even if he wasn't given a lot of time on the ball.
MF Ander Herrera, 7 -- Early mistake to let a long ball drop over his head and give Atsu a chance but was disciplined in midfield and led the press to win the ball back quickly.
MF Paul Pogba, 6 -- The Frenchman has been brilliant since Solskjaer took over, but he was shackled by Newcastle, who kept him further away from goal than Huddersfield and Bournemouth.
FW Juan Mata, 6 -- Interplay around the penalty area was good. Had license to drift inside but did it a little more than Solskjaer intended.
FW Anthony Martial, 7 -- Had United's first real chance but scooped his shot over the bar. A constant threat down the left in the first half but could not keep it going after half-time.
FW Marcus Rashford, 8 -- Gave Martin Dubravka his first test with a free kick aimed at his near post. Set up the first goal with another fierce free kick and scored the second with a cool finish. Another positive display under the new manager.
FW Romelu Lukaku, 7 -- Scored with his first touch.
FW Alexis Sanchez, 7 -- Set up Rashford with a clinical pass.
FW Jesse Lingard, N/R -- Replaced Rashford with two minutes to play.