Newcastle United failed to capitalise on an early gift from Luke Shaw and a penalty save from Karl Darlow, as three late goals from Manchester United saw it finish 1-4 to the visitors.
The clinching goals all came in the closing minutes, giving us our worst home result of the Bruce era.
In truth, we would have been highly fortunate to get a point, having spent much of the game on the edge of the penalty area, firefighting wave after wave of attack.
Equally though, United did have occasional chances and had it not been for a world class save by David De Gea from Callum Wilson, we might have found ourselves defending a lead in the closing stage, rather than attempting to hang on grimly for a point.
In the end though, even that proved beyond us thanks to a wonderful finish from Bruno Fernandes with the midfield all at sea.
Emil Krafth got us off to a dream start when his cross was diverted past De Gea by Shaw, with shades of Phil Jones’ own goal in the 3-0 mauling from 2012.
At that point we looked dangerous on the counter, Allan Saint-Maximin in particular looking ‘in the mood’, constantly worrying the shaky looking Manc back four with a series of promising dribbles.
Very quickly though it became clear we would be spending the rest of the night defending deep, as the Red Devils started to dominate proceedings.
Only a marginal offside call denied them an equaliser, before Harry Maguire did manage to wipe out our lead with a header from a corner, neither Lascelles nor Fernandez covering themselves in glory.
Once again we had Karl Darlow to thank for keeping things close, saving wonderfully from Juan Mata, who continued his record of playing superbly against us.
Our only crumbs of comfort came from Saint-Maximin who forced De Gea into a great save just before half time.
It was typical that the under-pressure goalkeeper decided to return to form at SJP, his later save from Wilson perhaps the defining moment in terms of hope for NUFC, in a strange game.
Manchester United’s penalty was the first time we have been on the wrong end of a harsh VAR call since the technology was brought in. In real time it looked as if Rashford was falling anyway but maybe we were due one of those bizarre calls after our penalty against Spurs a few weeks back.
Thankfully, Darlow made a brilliant save, unfortunately he was only denying the inevitable.
In truth, it was always going to be difficult with our set-up and the luck required, began to desert us as the game went on.
The normally unflappable Isaac Hayden had his hands full with both Mata and Bruno Fernandes interchanging around him, damaging his hamstring in the process, Steve Bruce finally accepting he had to sub him.
Shelvey did sting De Gea’s gloves from distance but any chance of us snatching a win faded in the closing stages.
Three times in succession Bruce’s backline were taken apart by flowing counter-attack moves, to give the score a slightly lopsided feel.
First Fernandes finally got his goal, before Wan-Bissaka and Rashford condemned us to our heaviest home defeat under Steve Bruce.
It would be generous however, to say we deserved a point or more on this performance.
Bruce said the defeat looked worse than it was, but in truth, we still look to be relying too much on individual brilliance from Saint-Maximin going forward and on Darlow defying opposition attackers at the other end.
Injuries to either would put us in real trouble. Let’s hope Darlow will be ok for next week at least.
A raucous Saturday night full house at St James’ may have made a difference, admittedly though enthusiasm might have been dampened once the pattern of the game became evident.
It was a thoroughly bizarre evening. The result was close for the majority of the 90 minutes but didn’t feel it. We managed to hang on despite not defending particularly well, and we scored, despite showing very little attacking intent throughout.
Those that did pay the £14.95 would have certainly felt short-changed.
Stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle United 1 Manchester United 4 – Saturday 17 October 8pm
Shaw OG 2
Maguire 23, Fernandes 86, Wan-Bissaka 90, Rashford 90+6
Stats in brackets are from half-time:
Possession was Man Utd 64% (64%), Newcastle 36% (36%)
Total shots were Man Utd 28 (13) Newcastle 7 (2)
Shots on target were Man Utd 14 (6) Newcastle 4 (2)
Corners were Man Utd 7 (5) Newcastle 0 (0)
Referee: Craig Pawson
Newcastle United team v Manchester United:
Darlow, Krafth, Fernandez, Lascelles, Lewis, Shelvey, Hayden (Schar 49), Hendrick (Almiron 88), Joelinton (Fraser 72), Wilson, Saint-Maximin
Gillespie, Carroll, Manquillo, Murphy
(Alan Shearer refuses to mention biggest issue as slates Newcastle after Man Utd humiliation – Read HERE)
(Ole Gunnar Solskjaer explains how his weakened team hammered Newcastle United – Read HERE)
(Steve Bruce excuses are worse than his tactics after Newcastle United 1 Manchester United 4 – Read HERE)
(Newcastle United 1 Manchester United 4 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Saturday’s defeat – Read HERE)
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