MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – So much for Manchester United being boring.
In one of the most entertaining matches of the English Premier League season, United squandered a two-goal lead, went back in front through an exquisite shot from Wayne Rooney, and then conceded a 90th-minute goal to draw at Newcastle 3-3 on Tuesday.
The thriller at St. James’ Park might briefly silence the many critics who have been criticizing United’s often ponderous style of play, but that will come as little comfort to under-pressure manager Louis van Gaal, whose side slipped to sixth place in the standings.
“It feels like a defeat,” said Van Gaal, who acknowledged before the game that even he was “very bored” during some United matches. “We have given it away.”
A positive for United was the performance of Rooney, who scored twice, set up the other goal by Jesse Lingard, and put in an impressive all-round performance. He has four goals in three matches in 2016, having struggled for form in the first half of the season.
Last-place Aston Villa collected its first win since the opening day, beating Crystal Palace 1-0 courtesy of a goalkeeper error by Wayne Hennessey. The Wales international let Joleon Lescott’s header slip through his grasp and over the line, ending Villa’s 19-game winless run and giving the team renewed hope of surviving relegation.
Villa provisionally is eight points from safety.
Also, West Ham came from behind to beat Bournemouth 3-1, with Enner Valencia scoring twice and fit-again playmaker Dimitri Payet scoring the other goal for the visitors.
West Ham moved into fifth place, above Man United.
With Newcastle struggling for goals of late and United seemingly restricted by Van Gaal’s suffocating approach, few would have foreseen this end-to-end match. It was a throwback to many of the exciting games in Alex Ferguson’s reign at United.
Rooney’s ninth-minute goal from the penalty spot set the tone, before the England striker led a counterattack that ended with Lingard scoring from a low shot.
Goals by Georginio Wijnaldum and Aleksandar Mitrovic, also from a penalty, brought Newcastle level, only for Rooney to restore United’s lead by curling home a screamer from 20 meters in the 79th.
With seconds left of regulation time, United failed to clear and Paul Dummett advanced from left back to fire in a fierce shot from the edge of the area that deflected into the top corner.
“It is the best feeling in the world,” the Newcastle-born Dummett said.
The result keeps the pressure on Van Gaal, whose job appeared to be on the line over the festive period when United was on an eight-match winless run. The 20-time English champions won back-to-back games to start 2016, against Swansea in the league and third-tier Sheffield United in the F.A. Cup, but both performances were unconvincing.
United plays its biggest rival, Liverpool, on Sunday.