LONDON (AFP) – Miguel Almiron scored in 20 seconds as Newcastle returned from their coronavirus hiatus to beat West Bromwich Albion 2-1, while under-fire Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer prepared for a crucial derby against Manchester City on Saturday (Dec 12).
Playing for the first time since their match against Aston Villa was postponed due to a Covid-19 outbreak in their squad, Newcastle took less than a minute to grab the lead when Almiron swept his shot past West Brom keeper Sam Johnstone.
West Brom drew level five minutes into the second half at St James’ Park.
Matt Phillips delivered a low cross which was met by defender Darnell Furlong, who lashed an unstoppable low shot past Karl Darlow.
Newcastle clinched the points in the 82nd minute when Dwight Gayle met a superb cross by fellow substitute Jacob Murphy to head past Johnstone.
Newcastle’s second successive victory lifted the gloom from their virus issues, but struggling West Brom stay second bottom.
Anwar El Ghazi’s last-gasp penalty fired 10-man Aston Villa to a dramatic 1-0 win against Wolves.
Villa had Douglas Luiz sent off in the final minutes for two bookings after the Brazilian midfielder caught Daniel Podence with an elbow.
But Nelson Semedo’s stoppage-time foul on John McGinn triggered El Ghazi’s penalty before Wolves midfielder Joao Moutinho was dismissed for a second yellow card just moments from full-time in a fractious local derby.
After two successive defeats, Villa will hope they are back on track with just their second win in six games.
Villa have won four of their five away league matches this season, while mid-table Wolves have only one win in their last five games.
Later, Solskjaer’s United will look to bounce back from their Champions League exit in midweek.
Following a run of four straight league wins, the Red Devils can claim to be in the hunt for a first league title since Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 sent them into decline.
But the helter-skelter nature of some of those victories, allied to the shoddy defending that led to a 3-2 defeat to RB Leipzig in midweek, means the pressure is once again on Solskjaer.
A fourth defeat in six Premier League games at Old Trafford this season could see United finish the weekend eight points off the leaders, albeit with a game in hand.
City are a point behind United, in seventh, but Pep Guardiola’s men appear to be coming into form after recording back-to-back league wins for the first time this season.
In stark contrast to United’s Champions League woes, City’s serene progress into the last-16, with two games to spare, allowed Guardiola to leave Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus in reserve for the derby.
In Saturday’s last match, third placed Chelsea travel to Everton knowing a win would take them above leaders Tottenham to the top o the table.