Manchester United 0-0 Newcastle: Erik ten Hag’s men are held to a goalless draw at Old Trafford

He left the stage mumbling to himself and shaking his head. Cristiano Ronaldo offered only a brief helping hand to Erik ten Hag and took a seat on the bench where the head shaking started again.

Thus ended another eventful week in the life of the Manchester United No.7.

On Sunday, Ronaldo netted the 700th club goal of his Everton career. On Monday, he accepted an FA misconduct charge. Yesterday at Old Trafford he was barely out of the spotlight before making one of those surly exits that don’t make his manager’s life any easier.

Manchester United endured a frustrating afternoon at Old Trafford as they were held to a 0-0 draw with Newcastle

Newcastle's Joelinton produced the game's best chance when he headed for the crossbar twice in a row

Newcastle’s Joelinton produced the game’s best chance when he headed for the crossbar twice in a row

Marcus Rashford nearly found a winner on the bench with a stoppage-time header that flew wide

Marcus Rashford nearly found a winner on the bench with a stoppage-time header that flew wide

MATCH FACTS

MAN UTD (4-2-3-1): De Gea 6; Dalot 5.5, Varane 7, Martinez 6.5, Shaw 6; Casemiro 7, Fred 5; Anthony 6.5, Fernandes 6, Sancho 6.5; Ronaldo 6 (Rashford 72, 5.5).

Subtitles: Heaton, Lindelof, Malacia, Pellistri, Elanga, Garnacho, Iqbal, Mainoo.

Reserve: Ronaldo, Fernandes, Casemiro

Administrator: Erik ten Hag 6

NEWCASTLE (4-3-3): Pope 6; Trippier 6.5, Schar 7.5 (Lascelles 90+1), Botman 7, Burn 5 (Target 78, 6); Longstaff 6.5, Guimaraes 6 (Willock 78, 6) Joelinton 6.5; Almiron 6.5, Wilson 5 (Woods 78, 6), Murphy 5 (Fraser 59, 6). Replacements: Karius, Shelvey, Lewis, Anderson.

Reserve: Burn

Administrator: Eddie Howe 6.5

Arbitrator: Craig Pawson 5

Ronaldo had been at the center of the game’s biggest talking point early in the second half when he put the ball in the net twice within moments.

While the first incident was pretty neat – a flag raised ridiculously late when clearly offside before scoring – the second was less egregious.

Fabian Schar gave a free kick to goalkeeper Nick Pope who was 15 meters from his surface. Pope held over the ball for some time before being ambushed by Ronaldo who nicked him and scored into an empty net.

The Portuguese star led the calls as every United player circled Craig Pawson claiming a goal, but the only thing the referee awarded was a yellow card for Ronaldo.

Ten Hag was also upset and walked straight to the officials at the final whistle to complain, but it was one of those goals the referee rarely gives up without a good reason.

While there, the United manager may have mentioned two penalty calls for Sean Longstaff’s challenge on Jadon Sancho and Kieran Trippier on Ronaldo in the second half.

To be fair, Newcastle had one early in the game when Rapahel Varane sent Callum Wilson down in the box.

In the end, the decisions were about as even as the rest of this encounter. Newcastle had the better of the first half and should have led through Joelinton. United had the better of the second and should have won it thanks to Ronaldo’s replacement Marcus Rashford.

The result was a scoreless stalemate between the fifth- and sixth-placed sides in the Premier League table, separated by a place and a point.

Antony was impressive on the wing for United but was given no chance to step in and his crosses were treated well

Antony was impressive on the wing for United but was given no chance to step in and his crosses were treated well

Newcastle were positive throughout and managed United's pace well on the wing

Newcastle were positive throughout and managed United’s pace well on the wing

In the build-up to that game, Howe claimed Newcastle can be as big as United one day, but that’s not the boast he once was.

Certainly, Saudi-controlled Newcastle can no longer be considered “a little north-east club”, as Sir Alex Ferguson once contemptuously described it.

They arrived at Old Trafford breathing down United’s necks and hoping for just their second win in 40 visits here dating back to 1972.

They may have it too, had Joelinton’s goal been slightly better when he had his best chance of the game in the 24th minute.

The Brazilian was knocked down to the edge of the box by the combined efforts of his compatriots, Fred and Antony, giving Trippier a chance to test David de Gea in his 500th appearance for United.

Trippier’s first attempt hit the wall but he returned the ball and found Joelinton in front of goal.

Ronaldo put the ball in the net twice in the second half but both were ruled out after the striker was ruled offside

Ronaldo put the ball in the net twice in the second half but both were ruled out after the striker was ruled offside

His first header beat De Gea and returned from the bar, and his second hit the post before Diogo Dalot cleared to safety. Trippier’s corner is then sent to the far post where Bruno Guimaraes fails to get a vital touch.

Without an ill Cristian Eriksen, United lacked creativity. Sancho and Antony fired high into the Stretford End in the first half, before Sancho set Antony up to shoot Pope in the legs.

Ten Hag praised his players for equaling what he described as the most physical side in the Premier League, and there was certainly no shortage of aggression.

Dan Burn, who struggled with Antony’s pace, was the only name to enter Pawson’s book before half-time for a challenge from behind on Ronaldo, having already caught Antony in the face with a trailing arm.

Bruno Fernandes was booked in the second half for digging his studs into Guimaraes’ ankle before Casemiro was rather lucky to walk away with a yellow card for a challenge thrown at substitute Ryan Fraser.

By then United were well ahead but a goal continued to elude them.

Ten Hag turned to the bench and summoned Rashford who also felt unwell.

Erik ten Hag's side could have entered the top four with a win today but are now fifth, still a point ahead of Newcastle

Erik ten Hag’s side could have entered the top four with a win today but are now fifth, still a point ahead of Newcastle

He almost fashioned a winner by staying wide as he ran over Fernandes’ pass and nocked the ball past Pope when the keeper rushed out of his box. Rashford decided not to aim for the goal from a difficult angle and instead passed to Fred, but the Brazilian deflected his effort away from the far post.

Ten Hag told Rashford to be more ruthless after a failed performance in Thursday’s Europa League win over Omonia Nicosia here, but his killer instinct let him down again.

With the final action of the match, in the last of five minutes added by Pawson, Casemiro curled a cross to the edge of the penalty area with the outside of his right foot.

Rashford rose to reach it and a goal seemed inevitable, but he couldn’t even hit the target.

“He had to score,” lamented Ten Hag. You can only imagine what Ronaldo was thinking.

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