By ESPNSTAR.com staff
The Magpies had not won at Old Trafford since 1972 but they took the lead three times on Wednesday through James Perch, a Jonny Evans own-goal and Papiss Cisse.
However, each time United responded as goals from Evans, Patrice Evra, Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez won them the game.
De Gea - 3.5
The jury is still out on De Gea at Manchester United and it's not hard to see why. He really should have done better for Newcastle's opening goal instead of parrying Ba's shot straight into the path for Perch to score. In fact, the Spaniard never really got to grips with the game and went on to concede another two more goals.
Smalling - 5
Smalling just did not look comfortable against Ba or Cisse.
Evans - 6.5
Busiest man at Old Trafford on Wednesday. Reacted quickest in the 25th minute to steer home Krul's save on Hernandez to equalise for United. But then three minutes later he put the ball into his own net under pressure from Cisse. The own-goal was very controversial. Cisse was clearly offside when the ball was played but since Evans got the only touch the referee ruled the Newcastle striker was not ‘interfering' with play. Yet, Evans was obviously reacting to Cisse's presence by sticking a leg out to try and clear the ball. The rulebook may say legitimate goal but common sense says otherwise.
Ferdinand - 7
Evans may have scored an important goal for United but it was Ferdinand who had the better game overall. He defended Newcastle much better than Evans did and made some crucial blocks to keep United in with a chance to win the game.
Evra - 7.5
No defender has scored more Premier League goals than Evra this season. He latched onto a clearance to fire low into the corner from outside the box for his fourth goal of the season and United's second goal. Evra was a livewire down the left which proved to be a very important feature for a United team whose central midfield was a bit pedestrian at times.
Valencia - 7
Valencia's crossing and penetration down the right was vital for United and had Hernandez been more clinical in front of goal, the winger would have finished the game with a couple of assists. Instead, he was actually a bit fortunate not to see red - or at least yellow - for a late lunge on Anita.
Carrick - 8
Carrick recovered brilliantly from his early mistake to dictate the play for United. The Englishman was at fault for Newcastle's opening goal as he surrendered possession to allow Ba to get the shot on the target which was eventually tucked away on the rebound by Perch. However, he grew in stature as the game wore on and it was fitting that he provided the perfect ball for Hernandez to score United's winner late in the game.
Scholes (Off 68') - 5.5
Poor game from the United legend. The Carrick-Scholes central midfield partnership just doesn't seem to work.
Giggs - 7
At times it was almost like watching the Giggs of old - but with less blistering runs - as the Welshman tested Newcastle down the left wing. His crossing was excellent and in the first half he was the United player with the most cutting edge in attack.
Hernandez - 7
Hernandez was the hero for United with his late winner against Newcastle, but to be honest he was very wasteful in front of goal. Before scoring United's fourth, the Mexican striker actually had three good chances to net the winner but failed to take a single one. Credit where credit is due, Hernandez did time his run to perfection for winning goal and caressed the ball nicely into the net past Krul in the Newcastle goal.
Van Persie - 7.5
Van Persie slotted the ball into the corner after Krul saved his initial shot to make it 3-3. He has now scored 61 goals in his last 74 Premier League games. No wonder Sir Alex feels he was the missing jigsaw piece to complete his United puzzle. The Red Devils went on to win the game 4-3 to increase their lead at the Premier League summit.
Cleverley (On 68') - 6.5
Came on for the disappointing Scholes and immediately added a better tempo to United's midfield.
Fletcher (On 90') - N/A
Krul - 4.5
No goalkeeper will be happy conceding four goals even if it was against Manchester United at Old Trafford. In truth, Krul made some good saves throughout the match but he also will have been annoyed at some of the goals he conceded - including Evra's effort which seemed to take an eternity to roll into the far corner.
Simpson - 7.5
Simpson had an excellent game and can be happy to be directly involved in Newcastle's second goal. It was his shoot / cross which was deflected into the back of the net by Evans.
Williamson - 5.5
As the game went on, Williamson increasingly began to look like a spectator. Struggled against the experience of Giggs.
Coloccini - 6
Made some vital last ditch interceptions in the box to prevent United from scoring more goals than they did. However, his game appeared to come unstuck in the later stages of the contest. He was caught out of position for United's third goal on 71 minutes and then was fortunate not to be whistled for handball in the box just seven minutes later.
Santon - 6
Santon was quick and strong in the tackle in his own penalty box which was encouraging for Newcastle, but positional play remained an issue for him throughout.
Anita (Off 90') - 6.5
Anita's presence allowed Newcastle to express admirable attacking intent at Old Trafford on Boxing Day. He came off injured after a poor challenge from Valencia.
Perch - 7
Showed great instinct to turn in Ba's parried shot by De Gea.
Bigirimana (Off 64') - 6.5
Impressive game from Bigirimana. Was at the heart of some of Newcastle's best moves in the first half.
Cisse (Off 79') - 7.5
Cisse played a key role in Newcastle's second goal - forcing Evans to put the ball into his own net. He also made the right move to reach Obertan's cutback and power home Newcastle's third goal.
Ba (Off 70') - 7
Caused United's defenders plenty of problems but his first touch looked a bit off today.
Marveaux - 7
Marveaux rattled the crossbar with a terrific free-kick effort which had De Gea beaten. Deserved more than he got in this game.
Obertan (On 64') - 7
Obertan perhaps had a point to prove to his former team-mates because he really looked up for the game when he came on. It was his ball which led to Newcastle's third goal.
Ameobi (On 70') - 6.5
Didn't have too many chances but did well in the 88th minute to loop a header at goal but De Gea was alert to the danger.
Sammy Ameobi (On 79') - 6.5
Came on and looked lively. Did very well to beat a couple of United defenders in the 85th minute before firing a low shot past De Gea - it ended up hitting the post.