Manchester United succumbed to Newcastle United in a limp display at Old Trafford, with Yohan Cabaye scoring the only goal.
Manchester United’s dismal season lurched into crisis on Saturday after a 1-0 loss at home to Newcastle United condemned the champions to their fifth defeat of the campaign.
Yohan Cabaye’s goal just after the hour gave Newcastle their first victory at Old Trafford since 1972 and consigned United to back-to-back home defeats in the league for the first time since May 2002.
Having lost 1-0 to Everton on Wednesday, United have now lost as many games as they did in the whole of last season’s title-winning campaign and David Moyes’s side could fall 15 points behind leaders Arsenal before the weekend is out.
“I’m disappointed with the result,” Moyes told BT Sport. “I think there were bits of the game where we needed a bit of luck to go for us and to take our opportunities a bit better, and that didn’t happen.”
However, the United manager refused to admit defeat in his side’s title defence, saying: “I stand firm that we’ll be very close to it and I hope we’re in and around it when it comes to the end of the season.”
United were without Wayne Rooney through suspension, but they restored Robin van Persie to their starting XI following a four-game absence with a groin strain and saw Phil Jones test visiting goalkeeper Tim Krul with an early shot.
Newcastle’s five-man midfield frustrated United though, and it was the visitors who came closest to breaking the deadlock before half-time, with David de Gea thwarting Mathieu Debuchy twice in first-half stoppage time.
United attacked the game with renewed vigour in the second period, but they saw Krul save from Javier Hernandez and Adnan Januzaj before a header from Patrice Evra hit the post.
Newcastle hit the champions with a sucker-punch in the 61st minute, with Moussa Sissoko galloping down the right flank after winning a duel with Evra before cutting the ball back for Cabaye to sweep home.
Moyes responded by introducing Anderson and Antonio Valencia and handing Wilfried Zaha a league debut from the bench, but despite sporadic late pressure, an equaliser would not come.
Van Persie had a close-range header ruled out for offside and Zaha curled narrowly wide, leaving Newcastle’s jubilant fans to taunt Moyes with crowing chants of ‘You’re getting sacked in the morning!’
The dominant team of the Premier League era, United remain in ninth place in the table, 12 points below Arsenal, while Newcastle climb to sixth.