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Ritchie’s striker keeps City 16 points clear

Newcastle, Sunday @PeopleSports11

Matt Ritchie’s first Premier League goal since May 2016 gave Newcastle United a shock 1-0 win over Manchester United on Sunday and struck a potentially decisive blow in the title race. Jose Mourinho’s side suffered a second successive defeat on the road and only their third in 29 league meetings with the Magpies to stay 16 points behind league leaders Manchester City.

Mourinho had failed to win in six previous visits to St James’ Park in England’s top flight and his players rarely looked likely to bring that run to an end in another hugely disjointed display. Chances were scarce throughout the contest but Anthony Martial and Alexis Sanchez wasted clear openings, while Romelu Lukaku had a goal disallowed, before Ritchie capitalised on some slack defending in the 65th minute.

The visitors offered some late pressure but could not find a way past debutant goalkeeper Martin Dubravka, meaning their chances of catching City look almost gone with 11 matches left to play. Newcastle, meanwhile, climb to 13th in the table, two points clear of the relegation zone.

Jonjo Shelvey brought a fine one-handed save out of David de Gea just five minutes in, as Newcastle made a bold start against a team they last beat at home in the top flight in January 2012. The visitors began to get a grip on possession but their attacking play lacked any real inspiration in the first half-hour, with Jesse Lingard producing their first shot on target 32 minutes in.

Martial wasted a glorious chance before the break, though, racing through one-on-one against Dubravka after a brilliant Nemanja Matic pass, only to shoot straight at the Newcastle goalkeeper.

It was a rare moment of quality from United and they were fortunate not to concede a penalty before the interval, with referee Craig Pawson unmoved after Dwight Gayle when to ground after being caught by Chris Smalling.

The visitors did have the ball in the net 52 minutes in but Lukaku was penalised for a push on Florian Lejeune as he headed into the net, although Mourinho’s men were at last beginning to look a consistent threat. -GOAL

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