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Romelu Lukaku scores with first touch as Manchester United beat Newcastle

Substitute Romelu Lukaku scored with his first touch as Manchester United beat Newcastle United with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer becoming the second manager in the club’s history to win his first four league games in charge.

Romelu Lukaku scores Manchester United’s first goal at Newcastle United after Martin Dubravka had failed to hold on to Marcus Rashford’s free-kick. Photograph: Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Getty Images
Romelu Lukaku scores Manchester United’s first goal at Newcastle United after Martin Dubravka had failed to hold on to Marcus Rashford’s free-kick. Photograph: Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Getty Images

The Norwegian emulates the feat of Sir Matt Busby in 1946.

Lukaku, who had only been on the pitch 38 seconds, pounced on an error by Martin Dubravka with the Slovakia keeper spilling a free-kick by Marcus Rashford.

Rashford doubled the lead after a sweeping move involving Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez as Newcastle lost for the eighth time at home in the league this season.

Newcastle’s best chance fell to Ayoze Perez when the Spanish forward got behind the visitors’ defence but Luke Shaw made a last-ditch challenge.

The hosts were fortunate to finish the game with 11 players after substitute Jonjo Shelvey’s reckless challenge from behind on Paul Pogba, which went unpunished.

Man Utd go from strength to strength under Solskjaer

After convincing wins over Cardiff, Huddersfield and Bournemouth, this was Manchester United’s sternest test under Solskjaer.

They lost the corresponding fixture last season 1-0 but came through this examination while keeping a first clean sheet in eight top-flight matches.

This was another high-octane, attacking performance from a team that has come alive under the caretaker manager.

Although he failed to find the net after scoring four in his previous two games, Pogba was once again influential and typified the new-found belief surging through the team.

Seven of United’s previous 12 goals under Solskjaer’s reign had been scored in the first half yet they had to wait until the 64th minute to find the breakthrough.

Lukaku made it two goals in as many games after Dubravka failed to hold Rashford’s free-kick.

There was little the Newcastle keeper could do about the second goal, Rashford rounding off a delicious move to notch his third goal in four games under Solskjaer.

More blanks for Newcastle

Newcastle played their part in an entertaining game and had chances to score, yet failed to do so for the ninth league game this season.

That his side have only managed 15 top-flight goals will be a huge concern for boss Rafael Benitez, particularly after peppering Manchester United’s goal with 14 shots only to draw another blank.

Christian Atsu caused the opposition defence untold problems in the first half but was let down by his finishing.

Atsu also drew one the biggest cheers of the night when he nutmegged Pogba on the edge of his own box.

Shelvey’s foul on Pogba was a big talking point but referee Andre Marriner took no action against the midfielder who needlessly clattered into the back of his opponent at speed.

Newcastle worked hard and were organised – but were also limited.

Benitez’s side are two points above the relegation zone, with three of their next four league games away to Chelsea on 12 January, home to Manchester City on 29 January and away at Tottenham on 2 February.

“Newcastle could be in a relegation battle come the end of the season and if they can finish fourth from bottom, I’ll be delighted with that,” said former Newcastle striker Alan Shearer, who was at the game for BBC Radio 5 live. BBC Sport