Man United held to 1-1 draw by Newcastle at home

Manchester United conceded a contentious penalty after a

linesman intervened to draw 1-1 with Newcastle at Old Trafford on

Saturday, dealing a blow to its bid to retain the Premier League


United defender Rio Ferdinand was judged to have brought down

Hatem Ben Arfa in the 61st minute, although replays suggested the

England international had made a perfectly legal tackle.

Referee Mike Jones appeared happy to award a corner but linesman

John Flynn indicated a penalty should be awarded, causing several

angry United players to surround the match officials.

Demba Ba kept his composure to convert the spot kick after a

two-minute delay, drawing Newcastle level after United striker

Javier Hernandez’s 49th-minute goal.

”I didn’t think anyone in the ground thought it was a penalty

apart from the assistant referee. The referee thought it was a

corner. He was nearer to it. He was only eight yards away,” United

manager Alex Ferguson said. ”The problem is that the referees are

full-time and the linesmen are not, and whether he ever gets a game

again, the assistant referee, is not for me to decide but it was an

absolutely shocking decision.

”I know what everyone’s view was, including the referee’s. He

said he thought Ferdinand touched it and won the ball and he gave a

corner kick. But he let the linesman overrule him. You knew that

right away. We had a situation a few weeks ago when the linesman

gave a penalty kick for handball but the referee knew what to do

and overruled him. That’s what the referee should have done


Newcastle played the last 12 minutes with 10 men after Jonas

Gutierrez was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Patrice


Hernandez had a goal disallowed for offside in the fourth minute

of stoppage time, ensuring second-place United is four points

behind Manchester City and having played one match more.

Tottenham won 3-1 at West Bromwich Albion to rise to third, two

points behind United with one match in hand on the defending


At Old Trafford, there had been little indication of the drama

to come following an open, if slightly pedestrian, first half.

Three minutes after the restart, however, United was in front

following a foul by Steven Taylor on Hernandez just outside the

Newcastle penalty area.

Wayne Rooney’s free kick hit the opposition wall and his second

shot was blocked Steven Taylor, but the ball struck Hernandez and

ricocheted into the back of the goal.

That appeared to inspire United and the hosts started to create

chances. Fullback Fabio powered forward but shot over the crossbar,

then Ashley Young’s corner was helped on by Nani for Rooney to head

over from six yards.

But there were warning signs from the visitors. Yohan Cabaye’s

corner was well kept in by Taylor at the far post, and Fabricio

Coloccini’s downward shot drew a spectacular block from goalkeeper

David de Gea.

Then came the contentious penalty, although United responded

impressively with Rooney making room for himself before shooting


Nani then strode away from Cabaye to cross the ball into the

area. Young appeared about to score before a desperate covering

tackle by Taylor.

Gutierrez clumsily fouled Nani in the 78th and was sent off,

having already been booked 14 minutes earlier for a foul on


Ryan Giggs’ resulting free kick found Nemanja Vidic, whose

header was superbly kept out by goalkeeper Tim Krul, who did even

better in the 83rd minute when he used both hands to turn Patrice

Evra’s 18-yard shot around the post.

The pressure continued late into the game with Nani crossing to

Young, who steadied himself before shooting against the foot of the

post. Four minutes from time, Newcastle defender Danny Simpson

somehow managed to clear Hernandez’s header off the line.

Hernandez looked to have scored the winner but the linesman

waved the Mexico international offside, further infuriating manager

Alex Ferguson and his players.