DEMBA Ba says Newcastle United’s attitude was spot-on at Old Trafford.
The striker scored his ninth goal of the season from the penalty spot in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Old Trafford.
Ba coolly rolled the ball past David De Gea to cancel out Javier Hernandez’s 49th-minute opener – after Manchester United’s furious protests over the controversial kick had been quelled.
Rio Ferdinand was wrongly penalised for fouling Hatem Ben Arfa in the box by referee Mike Jones, on the instruction of his linesman Mike Flynn.
The decision dominated the post-match headlines and Sir Alex Ferguson could be reprimanded by the Football Association for his critical comments after the game.
However, Ba felt Newcastle – who had edged the first half and had Jonas Gutierrez sent off 11 minutes from time for a second bookable offence – had earnt their slice of luck.
“We’re very happy, even if we didn’t win,” Ba said. “We were playing with one man down and we still kept our shape and got a result. We’re very happy.”
The previous weekend Newcastle had been beaten a few miles away by Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
And the performance owed everything to the frustration felt that afternoon when they lost their unbeaten record.
Ba added: “I think we were the better team in the first half. We went on the pitch with a different attitude to last week. This week we said ‘let’s chase them, let’s play and do the job’. That’s what we did. We deserved the draw at half-time.
“My thoughts when we got the penalty was that after the lucky goal they got, we needed to have a lucky goal as well.”
Ferguson labelled the draw “a travesty” and could not believe the penalty decision. “It was everyone’s view (that it was not a foul), including the referee. He thought Rio won the ball and gave a corner. He has let the linesman overrule him.”
Ferguson recounted an incident in the home game against Sunderland earlier this month, when a linesman flagged for a penalty for handball (although it was Ji Dong-won who had handled), only for referee Lee Mason to, correctly, give the decision in United’s favour as an example of what should have happened.
Newcastle might have scored early on, but Ryan Taylor, from six-yards, completely missed the ball.
Ba also had a decent chance, striding on to Ben Arfa’s astute chip but failing to get sufficient power to his first-time volley to threaten David de Gea.
Hernandez was the most dangerous member of a United attack that had been bolstered by the return of Wayne Rooney. The Mexican had a shot saved by Tim Krul and drove another effort over, with Nani also off target with a curling strike from the corner of the penalty area.
When Newcastle were last level at the break at Old Trafford, they went on to lose by six and they could have conceded four within 10 minutes of the restart this time around. Fabio flashed a shot wide after pushing the ball through Ryan Taylor’s legs, Rooney’s header sailed over and Ashley Young skimmed a shot wide from Patrice Evra’s cross.
A goal finally came thanks to some good fortune. Steven Taylor stuck out a leg to turn away a Wayne Rooney piledriver, but only succeeded in hitting Hernandez, who knew nothing about it as the ball bobbled into an empty net.
The good luck soon went Newcastle’s way with the penalty decision, though. It was the moment that lit the blue touchpaper, with tackles flying in and every decision being contested as United raged at the injustice.
Gutierrez pushed his luck too far when he slid through the back of Nani. Having already been booked, the red card was virtually automatic.
From the free-kick, Krul brilliantly denied Nemanja Vidic as he turned away the Serbian’s powerful header before denying Patrice Evra in equally acrobatic fashion.
Danny Simpson then magnificently turned away Hernandez’s goalbound header before United’s final hope was extinguished thanks to an offside flag.
Man Utd: De Gea, Fabio Da Silva (Smalling 90), Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra (Macheda 87), Nani, Carrick, Giggs, Young, Rooney, Hernandez. Subs Not Used: Lindegaard, Evans, Park, Valencia, Gibson. Booked: Fabio Da Silva. Goals: Hernandez 49.
Newcastle: Krul, Simpson, Steven Taylor, Coloccini, Ryan Taylor, Obertan (Sammy Ameobi 65), Cabaye, Guthrie (Perch 74), Gutierrez, Ben Arfa (Lovenkrands 80), Ba. Subs Not Used: Elliot, Santon, Gosling, Shola Ameobi. Sent Off: Gutierrez (78). Booked: Ben Arfa, Cabaye, Gutierrez, Guthrie. Goals: Ba 64 pen.
Att: 75,594 Ref: Mike Jones (Cheshire).