Unlikely hero Paul Dummett snatched a precious point for relegation-threatened Newcastle as Manchester United twice squandered the lead to draw 3-3 at St James’ Park.
The full-back drilled home a superb 90th-minute equaliser to end a run of four successive defeats in all competitions after Wayne Rooney looked to have claimed the points for the visitors.
Rooney had opened the scoring with a ninth-minute penalty and Jesse Lingard made it 2-0 eight minutes before the break.
But Georginio Wijnaldum and Aleksandar Mitrovic gave the home side hope and although Rooney scored again 11 minutes from time, Dummett’s late intervention denied Louis van Gaal victory on a night when he may well have been angry, but could not have been bored.
A crowd of 49,673 – among them new signings Jonjo Shelvey and Henri Saivet – rose before kick-off to pay their respects to the late Pavel Srnicek, the man between the posts on the day almost two decades ago that Newcastle famously beat Sir Alex Ferguson’s side 5-0 on Tyneside.
But once the game was under way, referee Mike Dean did not endear himself to the locals when he awarded the visitors a penalty for handball against Chancel Mbemba as he contested a corner with Marouane Fellaini, although how much the defender knew about it was debatable. Rooney dispatched the spot-kick.
Van Gaal’s men extended their lead seven minutes before the break when, after Mbemba’s loose pass had been picked off, they broke at pace and Rooney held the ball up before feeding a fine reverse pass to Lingard to score.
Four minutes later Mitrovic headed down Fabricio Coloccini’s long ball and Wijnaldum swept it past David de Gea for his club’s first goal since 19 December.
The Magpies went close seven minutes after the restart when Moussa Sissoko tricked his way past full-back Ashley Young and forced De Gea, who had produced a vital first-half block to deny Wijnaldum, to save again at his near post.
Lingard could have effectively sealed victory four minutes later, but shot high and wide with the goal at his mercy after being set up by Ander Herrera, but after Jack Colback saw fresh appeals for a penalty denied, Mr Dean finally pointed to the spot after Chris Smalling hauled down Mitrovic.
The Serbia international converted calmly to level, and the Magpies thought they had taken the lead two minutes later when Wijnaldum struck, but did so from an offside position.
Rooney looked to have won it with a stunning 79th-minute finish after substitute Memphis Depay’s initial shot had been blocked, but Dummett grabbed a point at the death with a left-foot missile.