Daniel James repaid Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s faith with another goal in Manchester United’s 3-1 Premier League win at home to Newcastle United.
James had netted in United’s victories against Southampton and Real Sociedad – his most recent two appearances – and kept his place in the XI for Sunday’s game.
It was a decision that worked for Solskjaer, who needed someone to step up in a stuttering second half at Old Trafford after Allan Saint-Maximin had cancelled out Marcus Rashford’s strike.
James lashed in just before the hour mark and set the stage for a more straightforward finale in which Bruno Fernandes added a third from the penalty spot to ensure United would lose no more ground on Manchester City, who are still 10 points ahead as clear title favourites.
11 – Since his Premier League debut in February 2020, Bruno Fernandes (11) has himself scored more goals from the penalty spot than any other team besides Man Utd in the competition (Chelsea and Leicester, 9). Habit. pic.twitter.com/am5GFqP0Ot
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 21, 2021
Newcastle had scored first in six of their previous seven meetings with United and again started the brighter of the two sides, with Joelinton’s deflected shot requiring a touch over the crossbar from David de Gea.
But United’s first effort of note provided the opener after half an hour when Rashford ran at Emil Krafth, cutting inside to fire in a low finish that squeezed past Karl Darlow at his near post.
It was a short-lived lead, however, as Saint-Maximin, denied by De Gea moments earlier, seized on Harry Maguire’s poor headed clearance and side-footed into the roof of the net.
De Gea clung to a fierce Saint-Maximin drive at the start of the second half, before a rare United foray in the 57th minute saw James restore the hosts’ advantage, blasting beyond Darlow when Fernandes’ vital touch evaded Jamal Lewis.
Darlow stood tall to parry from Anthony Martial, but the Newcastle goalkeeper could not repeat his St James’ Park penalty save from Fernandes, who made the most of Joe Willock’s trip on Marcus Rashford in the area.
An agile Darlow save following Maguire’s header at least capped the scoring at three, scant relief for the relegation-threatened visitors.