Thanks to poor defenses, less than ideal midfields, poor officiating and lots of rain, Manchester United and Newcastle produced an entertaining spectacle on Boxing Day.
They were far from their best in any area on the pitch on Boxing Day, but Manchester United were relentless in the second half of their match against Newcastle and managed to squeak out a 4-3 victory. The result was in doubt until the very end and United didn't take their first lead until the 90th minute, but their win was well-deserved.
Manchester United got off to a horrendous start, with Michael Carrick and David De Gea stringing together a couple of errors to gift Newcastle a goal. Carrick's giveaway led to a shot by Demba Ba, which De Gea spilled into the path of Perch for an easy finish. The next two goals were both scored by Jonny Evans, though they came on different goals.
The first was on the correct goal, scored following a free kick. Tim Krul, who had an excellent day despite letting in four goals, saved Javier Hernandez's initial attempt in the 25th minute, but Evans stretched to beat the Newcastle defense to the rebound. Three minutes later, he poked in an own goal, but Papiss Cisse was flagged for offside. After a discussion with his assistants, Mike Dean determined that Cisse did not interfere with play and gave the goal.
That call had Alex Ferguson absolutely livid, and perhaps for good reason, but the United boss was lucky to not get sent off. After the teams came out of the tunnel to start the second half, Ferguson went onto the pitch and berated Dean for an extended period of time, then took to berating both the fourth official and the linesman. Incredibly, Dean didn't send him to the stands.
Patrice Evra got United back into the game with a brilliant goal following a set piece, struck from 20 yards out in the 58th minute. A United winner seemed inevitable at that point, but Newcastle struck back with a fantastic attack on a throw-in. Ten minutes after Evra's goal, substitute Gabriel Obertan got free down the left flank and slid the ball into the box for Papiss Cisse, who applied a brilliant finish to put Newcastle back in front.
Things got crazy from then on, and it was remarkable that the game finished with only seven goals. Robin van Persie's equalizer in the 71st minute was the first of many chances for both sides over the next 10 minutes, though both teams struggled with their finishing. While United looked to be in control, they looked shaky dealing with Newcastle counters, and were a bit lucky not to concede again.
Javier Hernandez's winner came in the 90th minute, assisted by Michael Carrick with a spectacular ball. He chipped a diagonal over the top of the Magpies defense into the box, and Hernandez stayed level with the defense to avoid an offside call before poking a first-time shot past Krul to steal three points for United.
Newcastle were enraged when Vurnon Anita was cleaned out by Antonio Valenica in stoppage time, and the Red Devils midfielder somehow avoided a card. It was a borderline straight red tackle, and Valencia should have seen yellow at the very least. Looking motivated by the challenge and poor decision by Dean, Newcastle pushed hard for an equalizer, but couldn't find it.