Manchester United 0 Newcastle United 0

Last updated : 11 January 2004 By Footymad Previewer

Two controversial decisions - one apiece for the Uniteds of Newcastle and Manchester - kept the goals at bay in this Old Trafford stalemate.

Few would deny Newcastle their draw at the home of the Premiership champions, although the point Manchester United won enabled them to leapfrog over Arsenal back to the top of the table.

Last season's fixtures between the sides produced 16 goals, while Manchester United won 2-1 at St James' Park in August. But as the game went on, you sensed that one goal would settle the points.

Newcastle could argue their goal should have stemmed from a 25th minute penalty.

United right back Gary Neville, already with two own goals to his name in the last month, almost compounded that misery even further.

A dreadfully short back-pass to goalkeeper Tim Howard was seized upon by the ever-alert Alan Shearer.

The Newcastle skipper nicked the ball past Howard but went down when the American goalkeeper made contact with his shin as the ball ran away.

Referee Paul Durkin signalled a goal kick as the ball went behind, leaving Shearer and his Newcastle team-mates incensed.

After the game, Mr Durkin admitted he had made a mistake with his decision and it should have been a penalty.

But he also insisted he had made the right decision to disallow a Manchester United goal 20 minutes into the second half.

Centre back Mikael Silvestre had beaten Newcastle defender Andy O'Brien to hook home a 12-yard left-foot shot as the players went for a Kleberson corner.

Mr Durkin stuck by his decision that Silvestre had fouled O'Brien although television cameras were far from conclusive in supporting his decision.

While Manchester United carved out more chances, particularly in the second half when they stepped up the tempo, Newcastle had the most clear-cut opportunity of the match.

In the 57th minute, Laurent Robert swung over a corner to the near post where Jermaine Jenas was quicker to the ball than the home defenders only to see his crisp header rebound off the bar.