MAN UNITED 2, NEWCASTLE 1
Manchester United’s fledgling back four came of age in the Capital One Cup, third-round victory against Newcastle United at Old Trafford.
The Reds’ well-documented defensive injury troubles prompted Sir Alex Ferguson to field a rookie back line which had three players making their senior debuts.
Marnick Vermijl, Michael Keane and Scott Wootton were all handed their first senior appearances while the experience was provided by Alexander Buttner who was playing his second game for the club.
The youngsters excelled, though they would have had a far tougher examination had Newcastle started with their first-choice front line of Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse.
Ferguson was delighted with the way his young defenders acquitted themselves.
“Ameobi is a difficult man to play against and Cisse’s experience showed when he came of, but we handled it well,” he said.
United’s side contained a blend of youth and experience as further upfield were the likes of Wayne Rooney, who was returning from injury, Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck to provide firepower.
And in the midfield was Darren Fletcher, starting his first game following his lengthy absence through illness, Tom Cleverley and Anderson.
Anderson and Welbeck were denied by excellent saves from keeper Rob Elliott while Cleverley missed a sitter shooting wide with only Elliott to beat.
United finally found a route to goal in the 44th minute through a brilliant solo effort from Anderson. The Brazilian picked up a Fletcher pass in midfield and breezed past two opponents before unleashing a terrific shot from 25 yard which curled in off the right upright.
Cleverley doubled United’s lead just shirt of the hour when he, too, curled in an exquisite effort after being set up by Welbeck. It was his first goal for the club.
If United thought they were home and dry, they were mistaken as Newcastle substitute Cisse helped his side almost pull off a remarkable comeback.
Cisse had been barely on the pitch for 60 seconds when he halved the deficit heading home a left-wing cross from Shane Ferguson from inside the six-yard box.
And Cisse so nearly conjured a spectacular equaliser as his overhead kick struck the crossbar with keeper David de Gea beaten.
United had chances to wrap up victory as Hernandez was also denied by the crossbar while Anderson also went close.
Ferguson was delighted to win saying he believed their success was merited.
“Newcastle had the stronger and more physical side, but we played some fantastic football and deserved to win,” he explained.
Ferguson was delighted with the goals from Anderson and Cleverley and also to have Rooney and Fletcher back after injury and illness respectively.
He added United want to progress as far as possible in the competition adding it is important for the club to do so.