United held at home by Newcastle

 

Manchester United 0 Newcastle United 0

The eagerly-anticipated shoot-out between Ruud van Nistelrooy and Alan Shearer fizzled out with barely a whimper at Old Trafford this afternoon.

Two of the Premiership's most deadly front-men barely fashioned a chance between them on a day when defences ruled but as the home side celebrated the point which allowed them to leapfrog Arsenal at the top of the league, the Magpies will lament the decision which cost them victory.

When Shearer sees a television replay of the incident midway through the first half when the former England captain clashed with Tim Howard inside the

He won the race to reach Gary Neville's underhit back pass and was sent sprawling by the

To the visitors' disbelief referee Paul Durkin waved away the appeals and Shearer was denied the chance to give his side a lead they would have deserved.

After a poor start,

Though it ended the home side's eight-match winning streak and extended Newcastle's 32-year wait for an Old Trafford win, neither side will be too displeased at the outcome which enhances their respective championship and Champions League aspirations.

Sixteen goals in two meetings between the teams last season had raised the prospect of another Old Trafford goal-fest but instead, the opening period was pretty subdued.

The attacking invention that was on show almost exclusively came from Newcastle.

Laurent Robert came closest to actually opening the scoring in that lacklustre first period, bending a free-kick wide of the home goal, although Howard did appear to have it covered.

At the other end, Shay Given had only two saves to make.

It took van Nistelrooy 44 minutes to fashion his first shooting opportunity, a long-range shot which flicked off Jonathan Woodgate and was comfortably collected by the Irishman.

Given should have been tested by Ryan Giggs in stoppage time but the Welshman only headed Kleberson's cross into the keeper's arms.

The arrival of Diego Forlan for Giggs at the start of the second half was enforced by an injury to the Welshman's back.

Forlan's appearance coincided with

Stunned by the rare experience of being outplayed on their own pitch, the Red Devils were roused by a couple of crunching Silvestre challenges.

It might not have been the most creative moment of the game but it provided

If Given had generally enjoyed as easy ride in the first half, the second was proving much more eventful.

He might have been caught out had Kleberson not lofted a chip over the visitors bar when Forlan put him through but his handling was again secure with three

Not that the direction of the game had changed entirely. It took an excellent penalty box challenge from Ferdinand to rob Robert as the Frenchman raced onto Shearer's through-ball at full pace, and Silvestre was not far behind when he swooped to dispossess Dyer, who was also speeding through.