A 90th-minute header from Alexis Sanchez secured a stunning comeback from Manchester United as they came from 2-0 down to beat Newcastle United 3-2.
Pressure on Jose Mourinho had intensified after four games without a win in all competitions, although the club had dismissed reports he would be sacked regardless of Saturday's result.
It looked as though the manager's days could be numbered when Newcastle raced into a two-goal lead inside 10 minutes, but second-half goals from Juan Mata, Anthony Martial and substitute Sanchez sealed all three points in remarkable fashion.
Newcastle went in front for the first time in a league game this season only seven minutes in, as Kenedy ran onto Ayoze Perez's throughball, turned away from Ashley Young and curled past David de Gea.
It was 2-0 just three minutes later, Yoshinori Muto spinning beyond Young and firing home from 12 yards out, prompting Mourinho to bring on Mata for Eric Bailly in a drastic reshuffle of his side.
Marcus Rashford then headed a golden chance wide as sections of the United fans began to turn their ire towards the club's board, chanting in support of Mourinho and former captain Gary Neville, who criticised the club's hierarchy on Friday.
It could have been even worse for United before the break, with De Gea clawing away a header from Muto and Young perhaps lucky not to concede a penalty for blocking a free-kick with his arm – although Muto was likewise fortunate for escaping the same offence in his own box.
Mourinho jogged down the tunnel at half-time to considerable applause from the home fans, who should have been celebrating a goal five minutes after the restart, when Nemanja Matic blazed over the bar with the goal gaping after Martin Dubravka denied Paul Pogba.
Mata grabbed a lifeline 21 minutes from time with an excellent free-kick from 20 yards out, which seemed to spark some life back into the home side, and Martial made it 2-2 after combining brilliantly with Pogba before firing into the bottom-left corner.
United's pressure did not relent and Sanchez responded to his own critics with a fine header from Young's deep cross from the right, prompting resounding chants in support of Mourinho from the buoyant home crowd.
What it means: Pressure off Mourinho... for now
If the first half was one of United's worst of the season, their second was undoubtedly up there with their best.
The result lifts them only into eighth place in the table, but the impact it could have on Mourinho's future could be hugely important.
Newcastle battled hard for their first win of the season, but their defensive frailties were exposed and their inability to make the most of some half-chances punished.
Mourinho inspires United at last
Given the widespread claims of players falling out with the manager at Old Trafford, this was a result that owed everything to Mourinho's decisions.
Two of his substitutes, Mata and Sanchez, got on the scoresheet and the bold decision to reshape the team with Pogba as a deep-lying playmaker left Newcastle with no answer.
It was a performance of genuine heart, and one that reminded us Mourinho still has something to give.
Bailly's 19 minutes of ignominy
Bailly had not earned a start in the league since the 3-2 loss to Brighton and Hove Albion in August, and he could be facing a long wait for his next one given his display here.
The centre-back watched Kenedy run past him for Newcastle's first goal and generally looked all at sea until Mourinho substituted him in the 19th minute in order to bring on Mata.
Should Mourinho remain in charge after the international break, his next match will be a trip to former club Chelsea. Juventus then visit Old Trafford three days later.
Newcastle will look to get over this result at home to Brighton on October 20.
That will do it for our live coverage of the thriller that was Manchester United v Newcastle! Thanks so much for following along and we hope you will join us again soon!
For Newcastle, this will be a heart-wrenching loss. They played so admirably in the first half but seemed to tire throughout the second. Dubravka made a lot of big saves but will likely be disappointed to have conceded the first two goals at his near post. Benitez' job is probably not in danger, but something needs to be done at Newcastle as they have now gone eight matches without a league win, their worst start to a season since 1898-99.
Much like the Manchester City match last season, United went into the half two-nil down, and came out of the dressing room looking an entirely different side. Pogba was probably the best example of this shift as he ended up being a driving force in their comeback, finishing the match with the most shots (4) and passes (84) for his side. Now the big question will be if this win was enough to save Jose Mourinho's job, or if it's too little too late.
It looked like Newcastle had secured themselves all three points after an impressive first half performance, but late goals from Mata, Martial, and Sanchez somehow won Manchester United all three points! Newcastle fans will surely bemoan the penalty that wasn't called in the first half but they had plenty of chances to put this game to bed but didn't. Bringing on Alexis Sanchez proved a masterful stroke by Mourinho as the Chilean has scored more 90th minute winners than any other player since 2016-17.
Full time: Manchester United 3-2 Newcastle United
Peep peep! Manchester United have come from 2-0 down to win a unique game of football. And though they surely can’t play with such tactical anarchy at the start of games, it was indeed attack attack attack that earned them victory in a desperate, exhilarating second half
90+3 min There will be five minutes of added time.
90+2 min Whatever happens from here, this has been the most exhilarating performance from Manchester United. It was born of the deepest desperation, sure, but they have played with pride, purpose and most of all speed.
What a crazy game. Pogba held the ball up nicely and laid it off to Young. He curled a cross to the far post, where Sanchez got inbetween defenders to plant an excellent downward header past Dubravka.
GOAL! Manchester United 3-2 Newcastle United (Sanchez 90)
Alexis Sanchez has won it for Manchester United!
89 min Mata crosses deep towards Fellaini, and Dubravka comes out decisively to punch clear.
88 min Newcastle bring on Joselu for Ayoze Perez, who had a fine game and made the first goal.
87 min Mata, who has been quietly inspirational in this half, starts a flowing move that ends when Young’s dangerous low cross is crucially blocked on the six-yard by Yedlin. He has been immense.
85 min “Cunning of Rafa to engineer an almost win as a statement to the owners,” says Ian Copestake.
84 min Newcastle should still get a chance to win this, such is United’s tactical anarchy. Perez leads a four-v-four break and wins a corner - from which the hapless Matic mistimes a header just wide of his own goal. He’s had a stinker.
82 min This is great entertainment. I’ve no idea what it means in the grand scheme but it’s raucous, gloves-off football. Probably not for the tactics purist, though.
80 min United break dangerously from a Newcastle corner, but Yedlin does very well to delay Martial long enough for other defenders to get back.
79 min In an unlikely development, Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba might just have saved Jose Mourinho’s job. I still think they’ll need a winner but nobody really knows anything.
78 min A Newcastle change: Christian Atsu replaces Muto.
78 min Diame’s header is cleared off the line by Lukaku! This is an entirely ridiculous football match. Diame should have scored with a clear header from a corner, but he mistimed it completely and it hit Fellaini before bouncing towards goal. Lukaku, who was on the near post, hooked it off the line.
This is brilliant stuff. Martial plays a one-two with Pogba, dances infield and slams a shot past Dubravka at the near post. Pogba’s return flick was beautiful.
GOAL! Manchester United 2-2 Newcastle United (Martial 76)
It’s 2-2 and Old Trafford is going ballistic!
75 min Dubravka makes two fine saves! The first was from a stinging half-volley by Fellaini, the second when Smalling was left totally unmarked at the ensuing corner. This is desperate, exhilarating stuff now. United have no option but to attack attack attack.
72 min I doubt even a draw would save Jose Mourinho, though a win might. United (M) are attacking with renewed hope and vigour. Their moodswings in this game have made me after 10 pints seem like a paragon of equilibrium.
71 min After more abysmal defending from Matic, Ritchie’s clever close-range flick is saved crucially by De Gea.
71 min “As a United fan and journalist,” says Nick Parmenter, “did you believe the Post Fergie era would be THIS difficult?”
Probably not quite this bad. But it was obvious in the last few years of Fergie that the club, never mind the team, was en route to hell in a handcart.
GOAL! Manchester United 1-2 Newcastle United (Mata 70)
Mata gets one back with a lovely free-kick, over the wall and into the bottom corner. Dubravka had no real chance with that.
69 min Diame is booked for a trip on Martial just outside the area.
68 min Newcastle make their first change, with Jacob Murphy replacing the injured Kenedy.
66 min After a good start to the second half, Manchester United have lost their way again. It’s time for their final change, with Alexis Sanchez replacing Marcus Rashford.
65 min “There are two United out there, so please not assume we know which one you mean,” says Pete. “Obviously the oldest in the league is Sheffield United but even my soap box isn’t that opinionated.”
I’ve never understood why people get so cakey about this. There isn’t a Newcastle City, so it’s pretty clear who I mean. It’s also an easy mistake to absent-mindedly make amid a manic MBM. Maybe I’m missing something though, and in that case I apologise and offer my resignation.
63 min Yedlin robs Martial and goes on a brilliant surge that ends with the most cynical of trips from Pogba. He’s booked.
60 min “This isn’t the worst I’ve seen United play - I’m old enough to remember the Denis Law back-heel in ‘74 - but it is pretty poor,” says Matt Emerson. “What you need at the club is a steadying hand on the tiller, someone who’s been there and seen it all whilst the club sorts itself out behind the scenes. How about Arsene Wenger...?”
Only 16 years too late. I agree that there have been less adequate United sides. They were much worse from 1988-90, but I’m not sure the collapse of morale was as bad. Back then they were just honest, hardworking and crap.
59 min Another chance for Newcastle! Kenedy turns Smalling inside out on the edge of the area before battering a rising shot over the bar.
59 min Here’s Ian Copestake. “Rather than saying ‘puta’, I think Jose may have invented a new swearword out of ‘Muto’.”
58 min Ritchie is booked, more than a little harshly, for taking a free-kick too quickly. Anthony Taylor has had a poor game.
56 min There’s a rabid hunger about United now. Pogba crosses brilliantly towards Rashford, who flicks a header wide from six yards. That was an excellent chance. I think he mistimed his jump as the ball skimmed off the top of his head.
55 min Manchester United have had 85 per cent of the possession in this half. But the scoreline still flatters them.
54 min “In the highly unlikely event that my beautiful Anfield boys win the league this season then I will schadenfreude the hell out of you,” verbs Niall Mullen. “Until that happens I’m still staring up at a too-high-to-reach perch.”
Is George Graham still up there?
53 min Pogba is actually playing really well as an attacking centre-back. His defensive skills haven’t yet been tested but he has been influential in possession. Meanwhile, Mata’s volley deflects a few yards wide of the post. Newcastle get a goalkick.
52 min Ritchie shoots straight at De Gea from 20 yards.
51 min: What a miss from Matic! Pogba’s deflected long-range shot was brilliantly saved by the unsighted Dubravka, but he could only push it out to Matic six yards from goal. He leant back and sidefooted the ball into orbit.
50 min Mata’s cross finds Rashford, who does beautifully to beat Diame but is then crowded out by defenders. Newcastle look like they are happy to sat on their 2-0 lead.
50 min “I’m the biggest Mourinho apologist the world has ever seen,” says Shooby Taylor, “but even I have to admit there’s something beautifully poetic (and tragic) about Jose being ousted by his old nemesis Benitez.”
49 min Manchester United’s formation is entirely without precedent. A back three of Matic, Pogba and Smalling, with Mata and Fellaini as the central midfielders.
48 min Pogba sprays a long pass that is flicked on by Lukaku towards Martial, and the last man Yedlin makes an important sliding tackle.
47 min Paul Pogba is playing centre half.
47 min Paul Pogba is playing centre half.
46 min Peep peep! Manchester United begin the second half. Marouane Fellaini has replaced Scott McTominay and now it looks like Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic are playing in a back three with Chris Smalling.
Half time: Manchester United 0-2 Newcastle United
Manchester United are unsurprisingly booed off. They are 2-0 down at home to Newcastle, and the scoreline flatters them. Jose Mourinho is surely about to give his last half-time team talk as Manchester United manager. He sucks on lemon and mouths ‘puta’ among other things as he runs down the touchline.
45+1 min Young’s corner is controlled beautifully by Muto - with his right bicep. That should have been a penalty as well. Instead, Muto broke and was fouled by McTominay, who was booked.
45 min Mourinho is going to get sacked so he might as well embrace the meltdown. Put Luke Shaw in goal; come out for the second half with two fags dangling rakishly from his bottom lip; just do what you need to do.
44 min Smalling gives the ball straight to Perez, who moves into the area, hits an airshot and falls over.
42 min “Evening Rob,” says Jon Collin. “Never mind Arsène Wenger, Rafa must be laughing his tezzers off – have there been any lingering close ups on his face to confirm this?”
When Rafa laughs, he does so internally.
41 min Diame marches right through the middle of the defence and stabs a shot too close to De Gea. Manchester United have totally gone. In terms of a collective mental collapse this is as bad as I can remember, and I was there in 1989-90.
40 min What a strange incident. Shelvey’s free-kick hits the outstretched arm of Young, just inside the area, and deflects behind. It should have been a penalty to Newcastle; the referee gave a goalkick to Manchester United.
38 min Newcastle work a nice training ground free-kick, with Shelvey slipping the ball back to Ritchie near the penalty area. He is about to shoot when he slips and slices it out for a throw-in. Manchester United are fifty shades of shambles. Mourinho should just walk out of Old Trafford at half-time, coat swung over his shoulder, and pop into Wetherspoons for a bit. They must have a two-for-one on.
36 min The unmarked Lascelles misses another Newcastle chance, heading over from 10 yards. Manchester United’s defending has been abysmal.
34 min: De Gea makes a great save! A long free-kick was driven into the United box. Smalling’s header away was poor and went straight to Lascelles, who nodded it back towards the six-yard area. Muto was unmarked and headed to the left of De Gea, who showed his supernatural reactions to fly to his left and block it.
33 min Pogba gets away without a yellow card after kicking the ball away.
31 min Mata wins a corner down the left for United. It’s tossd in towards Smalling, whose looping header is claimed one-handed, Pat Jennings-style, by Dubravka.
27 min “Until United sort out the backroom side of things they will need to carry on hiring galactico managers with experience of managing £100m+ players,” says Leo Carroll. “Someone like Eddie Howe (or even Poch) would get eaten alive Moyes-style right now. City identified Pep years ago and spent the three years before he came buying players for him. Until United have that in place they are stuck being a Jonathan Woodgate/Michael Owen era Real Madrid.”
I don’t agree that Howe or Pochettino would be eaten alive but I do agree the club needs an urgent change of identity. They’re not a team so much as a collection of marketable commodities.
24 min Manchester United have improved since the substitution, with Rashford now playing just behind Lukaku. Pogba beats two players and hits a shot that deflects behind for a corner.
23 min Here’s Charles Antaki. “As Oscar Wilde so nearly said, ‘One must have a heart of stone to read the demise of Jose Mourinho without laughing.’”
I wonder what Arsene Wenger makes of it, whether he’s laughing his head off or whether he feels for him.
22 min Rashford misses a great chance, heading Lukaku’s brilliant cross this far wide of the far post. He was stretching but even so, he should have scored.
21 min “All the way over in NZ and I swore I wouldn’t put myself through another game,” says Maxwell Lowe. “I love my club and get up to watch anyway. This is what I get. It’s embarrassing. Who knows what’s going on at the moment but if something doesn’t change this will only get worse. Mourinho will go before any player but the players should be ashamed of themselves for giving up so easily. Where’s the passion? It really is sad and yet I still watch.”
That’s half the problem. Yes, Maxwell, you are the real villain of this story.
20 min Perez’s low shot is comfortably saved by De Gea.
20 min Mata is going to replace Eric Bailly, in fact, so Scott McTominay will move into defence.
18 min Shelvey’s wobbling long-range shot is slapped unconvincingly round the post by De Gea, who looks a bag of nerves at the moment.
17 min Juan Mata is getting ready to come on. I don’t think anyone is injured. This might be Mourinho giving two fingers to Paul Pogba on his way out the door. Or he might have gone full wibble and be about to take off David de Gea.
15 min Muto breaks into space down the left, only to be dubiously penalised for a foul on Bailly. That might have been 3-0.
14 min Newcastle have been brilliant. They sensed the mood - although, to be fair, they’d have to be pretty thick not to sense the mood - and acted accordingly. They have been full of menace on the counter-attack.
12 min “Please tell me your referring to Mourinho as ‘poor bloke’ was sarcastic,” There are a lot of people in the world deserving of sympathy but I would put him near the very bottom of that list.”
Not at all. I have a lot of sympathy for him.
Manchester United have collapsed. A long cross was dumped into the area towards Muto, who was given far too much time to control the ball, wriggle away from Ashley Young and batter a low shot that went straight through the unsighted De Gea.
GOAL! Manchester United 0-2 Newcastle United (Muto 10)
Oh my word!
It was far too easy for Kenedy, though he took it excellently. Maticnegligently allowed a throw-in to run through to Ayoze Perez, who slid a pass down the inside-right channel to put Kenedy one v one with Ashley Young. He came back onto his left foot and curled an emphatic shot into the far corner.
GOAL! Manchester United 0-1 Newcastle United (Kenedy 7)
It’s been a pretty untidy start from Manchester United - and now they are behind!
6 min “Say what you like about the rights and wrongs of the situation (and there’s plenty of wrong on all sides),” begins Nick Smith, “but Mourinho set the tone by not moving to Manchester.”
5 min Lukaku is lucky not to be booked for a foul on the breaking Ayoze Perez.
4 min Nothing much to report so far. Newcastle look like they have come to play, which isn’t always the case with Rafa Benitez’s teams.
2 min “I agree with that shortlist, but I think the best option is Simeone,” says Matt Dony. “For that reason, I sincerely hope they don’t get him! Howe would potentially be an excellent appointment, but would likely need the most time to bed in; the other two are more used to ‘big’ clubs and dealing with ridiculous egos. Poch would strengthen United, but his loss would weaken Spurs, so it averages out in the league. Simeone is amazing, with the strength to play his own game no matter what, and would probably put the fear of god into Pogba (and everyone else. He’s a terrifying presence). He creates a rock-solid defensive base, like Jose of old, but has the knack of also integrating some actual, yknow, attacking intent.”
Simeone would be hilarious. Imagine his provocative touchline stylings, and the sanctimonious reaction thereto.
1 min Peep peep! Newcastle, in their sky blue away kit, get things under way. Manchester are in red.
There’s a decent reception for Jose Mourinho, who is trying desperately hard to look impassive as he walks down the touchline chewing some gum. Poor bloke. His head must be in bits right now.
Newcastle’s record at Old Trafford is abysmal, though they did win here in the David Moyes Year. That’s their only victory on this ground since 1972.
“We have to be solid, try to stay in the game and try to get something. If we do the same thing we did last year, we’ll have some chances. It’s a long season so we have to carry on. Last year we were in the bottom five in January and we finished tenth.”
Jose Mourinho’s pre-match interview
“[Is this a must-win game?] Every game is a must-win game. That’s how I feel and that’s how I like my players to feel. It’s about the team, it’s not about [individual selections]. We didn’t have a phenomenal performance against Valencia but it was positive and to make lots of changes would not be the right thing. In this moment Ashley Young can give us a bit more speed and energy on the right side.”
Ashley Young replaces the Manchester United captain Antonio Valencia, who is not in the squad.
Man Utd (4-3-3) De Gea; Young, Bailly, Smalling, Shaw; McTominay, Matic, Pogba; Rashford, Lukaku, Martial.
Substitutes: Romero, Lindelof, Mata, Pereira, Fred, Fellaini, Alexis.
Newcastle (4-2-3-1) Dubravka; Yedlin, Lascelles, Fernandez, Manquillo; Shelvey, Diame; Ritchie, Perez, Kenedy; Muto.
Substitutes: Darlow, Clark, Schar, Murphy, Hayden, Atsu, Joselu.
Referee Anthony Taylor.