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Cisse strike softens Magpies' cup blow
Final Score: Manchester United 2 Newcastle United 1
THE long wait goes on for a Newcastle United win at Old Trafford and any hopes of a run to the latter stages of the League Cup have been dashed for a further year.
Yet this third round defeat to Manchester United included something which could prove to be one of the key moments of the season for the Magpies: A Papiss Cisse goal.
With Sir Alex Ferguson's youthful team leading courtesy of two well taken goals from Anderson and Tom Cleverley either side of half-time, Newcastle's attempts to reach the last-16 looked over.
But then Cisse, brought on as a substitute immediately after the second goal, managed to do what he has been unable to do so far this season – find the net.
That made for an interesting final half an hour as a much-changed Newcastle line-up kept plugging away in the hope of grabbing a late equaliser.
Cisse, suddenly playing with a spring in his step after missing a penalty in the 1-0 win over Norwich City and going six Newcastle games without scoring, tried an incredible overhead kick relying on the sort of cheek he had after moving from Freiburg last season.
Now Alan Pardew, unable to become the first Newcastle boss to win at Old Trafford in 40 years, will be hoping Cisse's break will lead to a flood of goals in the three competitions he is more keen to do well in this season.
In Ferguson's programme notes he described the “risky” Europa League team put out by Pardew in Madeira last Thursday as one which “almost amounted to his reserve side.”
And there were only three changes to that Newcastle starting line-up last night. Perhaps crucially, though, those included experienced figures Fabricio Coloccini and Cheik Tiote after respective injury problems.
Both had to be at their best against a team put out by Ferguson which mixed defensive youth with forward thinking experience, despite a low average age.
Manchester United threatened enough, with Cleverley, Javier Hernandez, Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney – playing for the first time since needing 11 stitches in mid August – buzzing around.
Yet before the first goal went in on the stroke of half-time there had only been one clear cut chance for the home team, which was wasted by England midfielder Cleverley.
When Hernandez skipped past Coloccini on the touchline, the Newcastle defence looked short of cover. Welbeck's lay-off from the pass inside was half blocked but James Perch was sucked in from right-back.
That meant Hernandez, who picked up the ball again 25 yards out, could roll in to the path of the unmarked Cleverley to head clean through on goal only to curl the wrong side of goalkeeper Rob Elliot's right post.
That should have been the lead for Manchester United, who had plenty of the ball without putting it to good use and that encouraged Newcastle to break and look for the first goal themselves.
There was a Hernandez header from full-back Marnick Vermijl that bounced wide and Elliot made two excellent stops from Anderson and later Welbeck, who had cut inside and driven low at the goalkeeper.
But Newcastle, seemingly content with counter attacks, did threaten on a few occasions themselves. Whenever they did get the ball in to the box, however, they were unable to test Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea.
The best of their chances was when Dan Gosling was picked out unmarked at the back post by Shola Ameobi 's downward header across goal. Gosling got his shape all wrong and volleyed off target from 12 yards.
Gosling looked steady in possession alongside Tiote in the middle, but when Anderson picked up possession deep inside the Newcastle half a minute before the break he was caught out.
Anderson switched feet before running at Gosling and more space opened up in front of the Brazilian so he struck the sweetest of left foot shots from 22 yards inside Elliot's right hand post.
Had Newcastle been able to see the remaining seconds of the opening half out then the outcome may have been different.
But once Haris Vuckic, after an indifferent opening period, curled narrowly wide from 12 yards having rolled young defender Michael Keane in the area, Manchester United extended their advantage to put a foot in the last-16.
As Cisse readied to go on shortly before the hour mark United attacked. When a cross ended up falling to Welbeck on the right, he rolled a pass for Cleverley and he made the most of some space on the edge of the box to curl low beyond Elliot.
But Pardew's immediate double substitution bought Newcastle a lifeline. Young full-back Shane Ferguson, replacing Coloccini to keep him right for Saturday's trip to Reading, floated over a teasing cross from the left and Cisse stooped to head in at the back post.
Less than a minute after the pair's introduction, it made for an intriguing last half an hour with Cisse's new sense of belief causing problems for a home defence lacking experience.
And the African's chest control from Ameobi's flick followed by the exquisite overhead kick which bounced back off the crossbar eight minutes from time almost forced the game to extra-time.