With the focus and attention on what impact Cristiano Ronaldo would have playing in Manchester United’s formidable forward line, Newcastle United’s mazy dribblers came away from the Old Trafford clash with impressive displays.
It was always going to be a tall order with or without star striker Callum Wilson, but with Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron, Newcastle carried a threat and caused problems.
With Wilson unavailable, Joelinton earned a recall but the Brazilian struggled to impose himself on the match.
Saint-Maximin and Almiron shine
Saint-Maximin’s assist for Javier Manquillo was his third goalscoring contribution (one goal and two assists) of the season so far, and every time he got on the ball the opposition players were eager to get as tight as possible to him and close space.
The Frenchman registered three key passes, the most by a Newcastle player, and was also the most fouled player on the pitch (3), which highlighted the threat Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side knew he posed (WhoScored).
Just like the former Nice man, Almiron also registered three dribbles, and it was his ball-carrying skills which carved the Red Devils open for the Magpies’ equaliser.
The Paraguayan skipped away from Nemanja Matic and Luke Shaw with a neat turn and his electric turn of speed.
He then breezed past Harry Maguire and played a perfectly weighted pass into Saint-Maximin, who teed up the onrushing Manquillo, who travelled 92 yards (Match of the Day) before smashing home the leveller.
No Wilson nullifies threat
There were times that Joelinton wasn’t even in the home team’s penalty area when Saint-Maximin and Almiron whipped in tantalising crosses.
It could have been a different story if it was Wilson on the end of them.
But with Wilson to return and with Joe Willock inevitably contributing, Newcastle have an attacking quartet that can hurt and punish teams.
The problem is following a summer of minor transfer activity, Steve Bruce’s side has no strength in depth, so when the likes of Wilson are unavailable, there is a lack of quality coming in.
The service and chances Almiron and Saint-Maximin provided yesterday would have no doubt been converted if Ronaldo striker was on the end of them.