While it was a disappointing night in Manchester, Yoshinori Muto gave Newcastle fans something to be positive about.
The summer signing got his first start in the Premier League at Old Trafford, and justified the faith instilled in him.
Muto scored Newcastle’s second goal, brilliantly working an opening to fire past David De Gea.
While the goal was ultimately worth nothing, Muto’s performance will certainly encourage the travelling Toon Army.
Can Muto really replace Gayle?
To allow Salomon Rondon to arrive on loan this summer, West Brom wanted Dwight Gayle in return.
The forward was instrumental in Newcastle’s promotion back to the Premier League, then scored six times as the Magpies finished in the top half the season after.
Gayle’s pace and movement in behind was a source of joy for Jonjo Shelvey, who constantly picked out the forward and created chances for Newcastle.
But with Gayle gone, Newcastle lost that threat in behind. Or so it seemed…
Muto had been struggling to get a chance in black and white, but he certainly took the one he got on Saturday.
The Japanese forward was a constant menace with his intense pressing and pace. His work rate was rewarded with a goal early on, which showed he’s more than just a runner.
Muto appears to be intelligent in his movement, finding space for himself and using the ball well. On another day, he might have scored more than the one he managed.
While losing a two goal lead was hard to take, Muto’s performance was huge for Newcastle. It proved that Joselu and Rondon aren’t the only options up front, meaning Newcastle don’t always have to play it into the big man this season.