More than a few eyebrows were raised when Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce started both of his young Longstaffs against Manchester United at St. James’ Park on Sunday.
It’s fair to say they popped off the head when the younger one belted the Magpies out of the Bottom Three against the sunk standard Red Devils.
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Matty Longstaff scored in the 72nd minute and older brother Sean combined to stifle a sloppy Manchester United midfield in a 1-0 win.
Manchester United has nine points, good for 12th, while Newcastle is up to eight points and 16th place.
Three things we learned
1. Man Utd woeful without Pogba, Martial: Most teams, to be fair, would look poor without two world class talents, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s men look absolutely idea-free up front. Marcus Rashford did little to nothing on the day, and in his defense his physical gifts are left for nothing without decent service. The side heaps pressure on the still-young center forward when it only gives him a pressure-packed possibility or two per game.
Steve Bruce’s Newcastle United is full of industry, but the Magpies have been wide open for business in the middle of the park. The fact that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had no answers for the Longstaff brothers, making their 15th and 1st PL appearance, should be massively alarming. It’s a great story for Newcastle given the combined 40 years between the academy products, but the Red Devils didn’t even look like a well-drilled unit of superior talent against one of the worst-performing teams in the PL this season. Not legendary, Ole.
2. Speaking of the Longstaffs: Steve Bruce made a brave move in starting 19-year-old Matty Longstaff alongside his brother Sean, the former making his first PL start and the latter chased by Manchester United in the summer.
It’s absurdly early for this, but Newcastle fans will freely dream of a decade of two brothers bossing the center midfield for them at St. James’ Park. It’s a story best told by clubs like Newcastle, even if the beautiful goal was produced by Saint-Maximin and Jetro Willems.
3. Differing fortunes for MLS men Almiron, Yedlin: Newcastle’s former record signing was bright again, but showed his battered confidence with two very poor moments. First he got behind the defense but took two extra touches to turn a breakaway into a blocked shot. Then his long dribble saw him cut right outside the box only to earn a deserved yellow card for diving rather than staying onto the ball. His potential and the flashes mean Newcastle has to keep him out there to work through it, but the Paraguayan’s faith in his finishing is shot right now.
DeAndre Yedlin, however, was plenty lively in his first and long-awaited start of the Premier League season after delay after delay in recovery from injury. He helped produced a terrific chance for Carroll, regularly got behind the Red Devils’ back line, and made a great sliding intervention a yard outside the six with 20 minutes to play.
Man of the Match: Matty Longstaff — On emotion, and just ahead of the team’s most consistent weekly performer in Fabian Schar.
Allan Saint-Maximin‘s long dribble provided an early chance for Miguel Almiron, but a less-than-ideal first touch pushed the Paraguayan out of line from goal and produced a mere corner.
A live wire, Saint-Maximin danced through three defenders before dragging a 12th minute shot wide from great distance.
Daniel James won a rare chance for Manchester United, but Martin Dubravka came to claim the free kick from near corner kick distance.
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Debutant teen Matty Longstaff swirled a 23-yard shot off the top of the cross bar in the 28th.
Almiron then beat the back line but took a couple of superfluous touches to allow the Red Devils time to block his shot inside the 18.
Harry Maguire flubbed a free header off a corner kick just before halftime. Would the Red Devils rue that?
Matty Longstaff and DeAndre Yedlin combined to cue up Andy Carroll for a header in the 65th, but the big man had to stoop and saw the ball spin over the cross bar.
The lead was rightly won by Saint-Maximin playing Willems into the 18, with the Dutch loanee cutting back for Matty Longstaff to rip low and hard past David De Gea.